Alabama High Altitude Ballooning Club

Explore Unique Hobbies, Find Community in UA’s Outside-the-Box Clubs

With nearly 600 student clubs at The University of Alabama, there’s undoubtedly something for everyone.

There’s a boxing club, sailing club, a group interested in competitive Army Ranger training, Greek organizations, various groups centered around race, religion, academics, music and much more.

Here’s just a sample of some student organizations with unique missions that you may not see or hear about every day.

Time to Smash!

Crimson Smash Club members playing Super Mario Smash Bros. Melee in the Ferguson Student Center
Crimson Smash Club members playing Super Mario Smash Bros. Melee in the Ferguson Student Center

Started in 2015 by a group of friends who loved the 20-year-old Super Smash Bros. Melee for Nintendo GameCube, the Crimson Smash Club has endured over the years, gaining members younger than the game itself.

Chanson Wallace, a senior accounting major and president of the Crimson Smash Club, said the club holds weekly Super Smash Bros. tournaments every Friday on the third floor of the Ferguson Center or in an available classroom in Lloyd Hall at 6 p.m. They also hold monthly tournaments where people travel from surrounding states to participate.

The weekly tournaments average about 40 to 50 people, and the monthly tournaments cap out at about 120.

“Our weekly tournaments are free, so the winners just get bragging rights,” he said. “We have a website where we post the winners and rankings. At our monthly tournaments, we charge a $5 entry fee and the top three players get a cut of whatever the pool is.”

Wallace said he initially joined the club as a freshman at UA because he loved the game. But after spending time with the other club members, he came back for the comradery.

“The game is fun, but it’s really the community that keeps people around it,” he said. “When I came to school here it’s how I met all my friends. I didn’t know anyone, but we all really liked this game. Now we’re really good friends.”

Wallace said if anyone sees a student carrying an old CRT TV — the older model TVs needed to play the GameCube — across campus, chances are it’s a member of the Crimson Smash Club.

“Say hello, join the club and get smashed.”

Up, Up and Away

Alabama High Altitude Ballooning Club balloon photo from space
Alabama High Altitude Ballooning Club balloon photo from space

For more than a decade, UA has been home to the Alabama High Altitude Ballooning Club, a group for those interested in researching and designing aerial balloons that can take scientific equipment into space.

“We’ve done blimp projects, ballooning projects and we’re working on a tethered aerostat project now where a payload is tethered to the ground but kept buoyant by a lighter than air blimp envelope,” said Robert Soran, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering and president of the Alabama High Altitude Ballooning Club.

Soran said most of the club’s members have technical backgrounds such as engineers and computer scientists, but anyone is welcomed to join.

Can You Show Me Where It Hurts?

When Mary Stahlman participated in a competitive health exercise at The University of Alabama at Birmingham her freshman year, it left an impression on her that motivated her to bring the competition and a branch of the club hosting it, to UA.

In 2021, the sophomore pre-med double majoring in microbiology and economics started the UA chapter of Dare to Diagnose.

“The club gives students who aren’t in medical school yet the opportunity to practice diagnosing patients, learn empathy and the interpersonal skills that are very important to the field and aren’t typically taught in the traditional pre-med curriculum,” she said.

“The big thing in medicine, especially with new medical students, is they treat a checkup as getting through a list of tasks, but in reality, it should be like a conversation and showing care to the patient. We have to understand how to communicate difficult diagnoses to patients in an understanding way.”

In February, Dare to Diagnose held its own two-round competition based on diseases and how to interact with patients.

“We initially got more than 100 students registered for the competition. Patient actors from UAB helped us. Competitors were able to simulate providing a check-up appointment, ordered tests, gave the diagnoses and conveyed it to the patient and answered their questions.”

Stahlman said all students, including those who aren’t going into medical fields, are welcome to join.

The Org Org

Organ Organization members Ryan Landsberg and Stanley Walker
Organ Organization members Ryan Landsberg and Stanley Walker

Yes, there is actually a club on campus all about organ donation — The Organ Organization.

Harrison Cook, a senior pre-med student majoring in microbiology and finishing his master’s in biology as part of the Accelerated Master’s Program, is co-director of sponsor relations of the group, which calls itself “the Org Org.”

The club focuses on getting students to become organ and tissue donors.

“There’s a lot of misconception around organ and tissue donations, and we want to educate people,” Cook said. “We’re about education, awareness and registry.”

Ryan Cooke, also a senior pre-med majoring in microbiology and finishing his master’s in biology as part of the Accelerated Master’s Program and co-director of sponsor relations, said many members of the Org Org join because they have family members who have received tissues or organs from donors.

“If you’re an organ donor and you die, you can save up to eight lives with your organs between your heart, pancreas, intestines, two kidneys, lungs, eyes and liver,” Cooke said. “You can also donate bones, ligaments and tendons to help people have knees reconstructed after traumatic accidents.”

The club partners with Legacy of Hope in Birmingham. New members are welcome.


Jamon Smith, strategic communications,