Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Performing for campus


Awed expressions mix with confused stares as students passing through the Quad are met with a circus of bowling pins flying through the air or unicycles zipping across sidewalks. But these are not acts in a travelling circus or entertainment troupe. Instead they are students practicing an uncommon – yet entertaining – hobby.

One of the personalities behind the pins is Nathan Porter, a sophomore majoring in computer science and math, who began his high-flying hobby in high school.

“I was on the tennis team, and my coach used to juggle balls during practice. I thought, ‘I want to learn how to do that,’” Porter said.

He said the seemingly difficult skill wasn’t hard to pick up; it only took him a few months to master the three-pin rotation. Porter started using the UA Quad as his personal big top last year.

“I started coming to the Quad to juggle after Get on Board Day, where I learned about the Crimson Jugglers. [The Quad] was where they would meet up,” Porter said. “Now I come here between classes since I live off campus. It’s just a good space because it’s big and open.”

While he juggles hollow plastic clubs, he said jugglers can work up to wood clubs or actual bowling pins.

For Joe Hasemeyer, a junior majoring in biology, it’s not wood clubs or bowling pins that he chooses to juggle – it’s anything.

“I used to work at Mellow Mushroom, so I’d juggle plates back in the kitchen,” Hasemeyer said. “I made pretty good money doing birthday parties there, juggling and riding my unicycle.”

Hasemeyer frequently rides his unicycle on campus and can often be seen taking detours through the Quad to stop and juggle. Quite the enthusiast, he owns several cycles, including his giraffe unicycle, which towers at 5 feet tall.

“Bicycles are just frustrating because you’re just wasting your time with handlebars when you could be doing other things, like eating a sandwich,” he said.

Hasemeyer said riding a unicycle takes a certain type of person.

“People like us try something if it seems fun, and if we can’t immediately do it well, we’ll try until we can,” Hasemeyer said.

This type includes Chris Hile, a junior majoring in chemistry, and Ross Singer, a sophomore majoring in accounting, who can also be seen riding throughout campus and the Quad. As with juggling, the cyclists say hands-free cycling wasn’t hard to master.

“It only took me two months to get the hang of it,” Singer said. “It’s a lot easier than people think. Beginner cycles’ pedals are only about 6 inches off the ground, so you aren’t going to fall [if you lose your balance].”

As with many hobbies, Hile became interested in unicycles because of a friend.

“I had a friend who already had a unicycle, and I just tried it and then got my own,” he said.

Usefulness, however, was what brought Hile’s unicycle to college.

“Unicycles are a lot more convenient because they’re smaller,” Hile said, “They can fit into the back of a car with no problem.”

The unconventional transportation does not go unnoticed by students and faculty when the unicyclists wheel about campus.

Hasemeyer said he gets jokes such as “How do you pop a wheelie?” and “If two of you high-fived, you could be a bicycle.”

Singer said it’s not the cheesy jokes they mind, just the redundancy.

“We’ve heard a lot of terrible jokes, like, ‘Your bike’s broken!’” said Singer. “Really we just want some new ones.”


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