At any sports event, whether it is football or basketball, Lumberjacks at Stephen F. Austin State University bring their axe handles to games. It has been that way since the mid 1920s. It first starts with a social group, 'the Sawyers'.
During public events, the Sawyers would pound their axe handles to the ground in unison. Combine the sound of that and the cheering from the crowd, these group of students became a trailblazer in keeping school spirit energized. While axe handles are a form of school spirit made from wood. Jackie Chandler contributes to the university heritage by crafting the handles.
Chandler has hand crafted nearly 3,000 axes for students and alumni, since 2015. He said the handles are something he says the university wants students to embrace.
"One of the perks of being an SFA student is that you get a free axe handle," Chandler chuckled.
Nowadays, the 'Purple Haze Association', a student group organized in 2011, dedicated to sharing the Lumberjack spirit by mirroring what the Sawyers did. They cheer from the stands, showing support to any sports team. To Chandler, having the SFA Men's basketball team play in the 2018 NCAA March Madness tournament is special. He said the traditions at the university are creating from a close community and see it'll be seen on a national stage.
"It really helps people stay tied to the origins-the roots of where we all started," Chandler explained.
The university hands out hundreds, if not, thousands of axe handles to students. The craftsman said axe handles are a way students can connect to their mascot, which makes the experience at sports events memorable.