Ward pedals outside of norm

Richard Kelly

Quirky hobbies don’t always have a crazy back story.

Such an example exists for freshman Jon Ward, who is sometimes described on Washburn’s campus as the “unicycle guy.”

Ward, who only began unicycling last October, developed the idea from a group of friends who started a club for it at Kansas State University.

He quickly caught on.

“One of my buddies up at K-State started a group called Unicyclists United and it had been in the back of my mind for a while,” said Ward. “But the day after my birthday, I just decided to learn how to unicycle. So I took my birthday money and went and bought a unicycle.”

For those who see him around campus, they quickly learn that doing activities outside the norm is nothing new to Ward. A graduate of Sante Fe Trail High School, he frequently stepped outside the box for his pep band costumes during athletic events, including making suits out of duct tape.

“People that know me wouldn’t put it past me to ride a unicycle,” said Ward.

His first unicycle, which he is currently riding, is a 24″ Torker, which was roughly $100. Living near campus in the Alpha Delta fraternity house, Ward has had plenty of time and practice on his new found hobby. It didn’t come easy in the beginning.

“It got to the point where I’d jump up to get on it and I’d just fall,” said Ward. “There was one day where I just set to unicycle around the campus regardless of how many times it took me to get up and keep going. It was the 2.2 miles around campus that I was going to do no matter what.”

He continued to keep trying though, hoping he’d eventually master the art of unicycling. Ward cited the difficulty of riding the unicycle as part of his original inspiration.

“Honestly, when I started, I think I started just because I wanted to know I could do it,” said Ward. “It was more of a challenge to myself to want to ride one. I mean, I’ve gotten a lot of comments about people thinking I do it just for attention or something. But it’s nothing like that. I just do it because I wanted to prove to myself I could. And now I can.”

It has begun to move past just a pastime for Ward. His main mode of transportation, even in harsh conditions has become his unicycle. While Ward has an automobile, his eventual hope is to even begin commuting to nearby places around campus on his one-wheeled vehicle.

Even with his devotion, Ward, a music education major, still has items that he values over his unicycle.

“If I’m carrying my trumpet, my mutes or my music, which are things I don’t want to damage, then I’ll definitely save them over myself,” said Ward. “I’ll land on my elbows. I’ve done that a few times.”

When it comes to his long-term future with the unicycle, Ward knows he’d like to eventually upgrade to a 36″ unicycle, which would allow him to go faster. However, right now, he’s just looking at the present to determine how he’s going to continue to use it, even though he wants to continue to improve.

“I haven’t really thought about taking it to the next level, but it’s just a good recreational thing,” said Ward. “For now, I can just go out and ride my unicycle somewhere.”