Unicycle club wheels into the spotlight

UTD Unicycle Club gives Comets a unique way to exercise and travel across campus in style

Sherya Ravi | Mercury Staff

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Juggling life and school can be difficult for college students, but the UTD Unicycle Club members balance it all atop their single wheel. These unicyclers gather together to navigate the college experience and build a community characterized by laughter, members said.    

The Unicycle Club, an official student organization at UTD, meets on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Tennis Courts, where members learn unicycling tricks for fun. The group welcomes all skill levels, and anyone can join, with unicycles provided for members at meetings. The group has been around since 2010 and had only four members last year, said Chase Alford, mathematics junior and president of the club. Memorable moments such as potluck gatherings and rides around campus, he said, define the social scene of the group and provide a community where he can pursue his love for unicycling while making strong friendships.               

“I think the Unicycle Club gives me a reason to be on campus and not be stuck in my room doing homework all the time,” Alford said. “It’s kind of cool being able to ride around campus and just be above everybody.” 

While unicycling can be a niche and difficult skill to pick up, computer science freshman Vincent Jones said the club teaches everything you need to know to succeed, with a relaxed atmosphere that helps the learning journey. Practicing between the tennis courts, the club measures milestones in how far members can ride, going from one pole in the chain-link fence to the next; eventually, unicyclers work up to fully riding with no support. A normal club meeting involves new individuals learning to take that first step in unicycling and advanced individuals working on skills like turning, staying idle — balancing while the unicycle stands still— and juggling while unicycling.  

“Unicycling feels terrible when you’re first learning, you’re wobbling all over the place,” Jones said. “But once you learn, and you’re proficient, it just feels so smooth. Your hands are completely free, you’re still moving forward … it feels so graceful if you do it right.” 

Mechanical engineering junior Thea Youngblood said one of her favorite parts of the club is meeting people and the reactions she receives. Youngblood often wakes at 5 a.m. to take unicycle rides and finds the activity a good way to exercise, often running into passersby who are amazed at the skill. She said people often ask her to do tricks or ride the unicycle if they see her with one, allowing her to socialize with others easily.  

“If I bring this [unicycle] out in public people will come up to me and ask,” Youngblood said. “I’m definitely going to stop to talk to that person and if I’m just riding through campus and if I see someone else on a unicycle, I’m definitely gonna stop and talk.” 

Biochemistry junior Justin Genco said the club is one of the best social groups in college he has experienced. Members often meet outside of practices to eat out and socialize. According to Genco, the unicycle club created lasting friendships even to the point where two of the members decided to move in together.  

“I went to the first meeting, loved it, went to the second meeting and [that] was even better,” Genco said. “It feels so different than any kind of thing that you’ll do … [and] everyone’s having a good time, laughing and cracking jokes, getting excited over doing some kind of trick.” 

Computer science freshman Sean Clarke stumbled upon the unconventional hobby at the student organization fair. Initially dismissing the idea as ‘silly,’ Clarke’s curiosity led him back to the club, where he decided to give it a try. Clarke found himself drawn to the club’s tight-knit group, which he said helped him find his footing at UTD.  

“I think it’s been a nice break from academics, and just a way to just hang out, not worry about the daily stresses,” Clarke said. “The focus is unicycling and just hanging out … just chilling together, so it’s just a breath of fresh air, a nice an anchor to my week that I look forward to. Something that I take good things back from.” 

Despite fluctuations in attendance, Alford said recent efforts to promote activities, such as hanging flyers around school bulletins, have attracted new people, with the group now having 15 members. With unicycling, Alford said he finds solace and fulfillment in pushing the boundaries of what he once thought was impossible, from juggling with his eyes closed to embarking on lengthy rides spanning up to 40 miles. He also said the group aspires to increase their rides around campus and planned events, like when members rode with the DFW Unicycle Club this past September near Grapevine Lake, to help better unify the group over their shared hobby.  

“It’s a great club and all the people there are super nice,” Clarke said. “It’s tricky and it takes time for sure … [but] there’s a lot of value in just trying things out and seeing where they go. [The learning process] felt a lot more personal and everyone’s just trying to learn how to ride a unicycle together.” 


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