It’s great to be a Miami Hurricane. Here’s what you need to know to celebrate like one

Canes football fans throw up the U and cheer during the University of Miami’s game versus the University of Virginia on October 11th, 2019 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL.
Canes football fans throw up the U and cheer during the University of Miami’s game versus the University of Virginia on October 11th, 2019 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Orange and green uniforms have been at the heart of Coral Gables for nearly a century, and throughout that time, the Miami Hurricanes have embodied the excellence and consistency necessary to run a successful college athletics program.

From our 82 individual NCAA champions to our 21 NCAA team championships, the University of Miami is no stranger to success. Ever since winning our first national championship in polo in 1947, UM has become a college sports powerhouse.

Decades’ worth of history and legacy have earned the loyalty of generations of students, local residents and sports fans who have inspired many of the iconic traditions that are practiced today.

Whether you are rooting for the ‘Canes at Hard Rock Stadium, the Watsco Center, Mark Light Field or any of the university’s athletic facilities, these traditions reaffirm pride for the university and cultivate a passionate sports culture in South Florida.

Below are some of the hallmarks of the UM sports experience and the most important things to know when rooting for the ‘Canes this fall.

Alma Mater

It may not be as exciting as the iconic “C-A-N-E-S ‘Canes!” spell-out chant, but the Alma Mater gives students a chance to come together in support of their team and university after every home football game, win or lose.

As UM fans sing the Alma Mater, they hold their left hands behind their backs and raise their right arms, pointing to the sky. They then rock from side to side, like Miami palm trees in the wind, while singing the song. The lyrics are as follows:

Southern suns and sky blue water,

Smile upon you Alma mater;

Mistress of this fruitful land,

With all knowledge at your hand,

Always just to honor true,

All our love we pledge to you.

Alma Mater, stand forever

On Biscayne’s wondrous shore.

Band of the Hour

The Frost School of Music’s Band of the Hour is one of the most recognizable and talented student organizations on campus, featuring an array of brass and woodwind instrument players, a drumline, the Hurricanettes dance team and members of UM color guard.

Each performance they put on for the University of Miami community is unique and electric, buzzing with pride for the Miami Hurricanes. From the vibrant colors on their uniforms to their perfectly-executed choreographies, the Band of the Hour is as spirited of a group as they come.

While they participate in several university-affiliated events, the band is most known for their pregame and halftime performances during Hurricanes Football games, where their music can be heard from every corner of Hard Rock Stadium.

When the Band of the Hour is not on the big stage, however, they always play as if they are, so do prepare for in-between-class naps and outdoor study sessions to be disturbed if they have any on-campus performances.

Four Fingers

Hand and arm gestures are classic intimidation techniques for opposing teams. The University of Florida has the Gator Chomp, Florida State University has the Tomahawk Chop, and UM fans proudly “throw up the U” every chance they have. But how many universities can say they have two sports hand gestures?

In the fourth quarter of every home football game, regardless of who is winning or losing, the Miami faithful will raise four fingers to the sky. The symbol communicates that a game is won in its last minutes and is used to inspire the ‘Canes to own the final period.

Considering how many times Miami has beaten Florida State in the fourth quarter (see Wide Right I through IV and Wide Left I and II), “Four Fingers” seems to be a pretty legitimate fear tactic historically.

Homecoming

Homecoming is one of UM’s signature experiences, even for non-sports fans. The week-long event welcomes students, faculty, alumni and community members to campus for a commemoration of UM’s rich history and a celebration of its bright future.

“I love Homecoming because it is a beautiful reminder of why it’s great to be a Miami Hurricane. Seeing all the alumni, students and families come together around the lake creates a sense of pride that is unmatched,” senior Creative Advertising major Nathan Dumont said.

One of Homecoming’s most cherished traditions is the annual boat burning ceremony, which has been in place since 1956. As thousands gather around Lake Osceola to watch the ceremony, special attention is paid to the mast of the boat. University legend has it that if the mast falls before the ship sinks, then the Hurricanes will win the Homecoming football game.

This year’s Homecoming game will take place on Nov. 6 as the ‘Canes look to defend their home turf versus the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Sebastian the Ibis

Sebastian the Ibis is the Miami Hurricanes’ mascot and the face of the University of Miami. The local marsh bird was selected as the university mascot for its alleged bravery during hurricanes according to local folklore. Legend has it that the ibis is the last sign of life before a hurricane strikes, and the first to reappear once the danger is gone.

In 1989, Sebastian proved that the legend of the ibis is indeed fact, and that he possesses the bravery characteristic of his kind. Prior to a UM-FSU football game in Tallahassee, Sebastian attempted to take a bucket of water onto the field and put out Chief Osceola’s flaming spear, which is Florida State’s pre-game kickoff tradition. However, as the Hurricanes ran out onto the field, Sebastian was stopped in his tracks and detained by five Leon County police officers.

Upon learning his lesson, he has since kept his FSU-oriented antics limited to snapping a spear on his knee.

His stained criminal history aside, Sebastian is also a performer and entertainer at a variety of on-campus activities and university-affiliated community and charity events.

The Smoke

The Miami Hurricanes’ “smoke” entrance began as an initiative to increase fan interest in ‘Canes Football in the 1950s and has since become one of the most characterizing aspects of the game day experience. As the Hurricanes make their way through the entrance tunnel and onto the field, they run through smoke created from fire extinguishers as fans cheer them on.

“Student smoke is my favorite tradition at UM. Part of the reason I chose to come to UM was because of how strong the school spirit was in the community, and student smoke fully displays the collective and unified passion UM students have for the Hurricanes,” junior Business Technology major Rohin Vaidya said.

The Sunsations

The Sunsations are the Miami Hurricanes’ official dance team. At every home football and basketball game, they are featured performing on the sidelines during timeouts and at halftime. Beyond their roles as spirited and talented performers, the Sunsations also serve as university representatives at athletic and community events.

“The U”

The origin of “The U” was an effort by Miami designer Bill Bodenhamer to distinguish the University of Miami from other schools with the initials “UM”. After the athletic department had undergone several name and logo changes, “The U” was born, helping create one of the most distinguished brands – and hand gestures – in all of sports.

Touchdown Tommy

After every ‘Canes Football score, the Touchdown Tommy cannon is fired by the Sigma Chi fraternity, sending a shot heard all over Hard Rock Stadium.