By Courtney Such, News Editor
Hank Ellison, Furman University freshman, is not a difficult guy to spot: he is the only one on campus who rides on one wheel.
Ellison, Furman’s own “unicycle guy,” taught himself how to ride in just three weeks during his senior year in high school thanks to a combination of injury and boredom.
“That’s when I was sort of hurt, so I couldn’t go to practice or anything, and I was getting really bored at home. So for three hours after school, I would just try and ride it,” Ellison said.
By “sort of hurt,” Ellison means he tore his meniscus playing soccer in P.E. class, benching him for the remainder of the wrestling season. He spent less than a week at home after school every day and was already getting restless.
“I just wanted something to do, and I saw a news article about people riding a unicycle so I bought one. I had to call around to a bunch of bike shops in my hometown, Charlotte, until I found one,” Ellison said.
He learned how to ride almost as easily as he decided to purchase one. After three weeks, several YouTube videos, a box of Band-Aids, and plenty of patience, Ellison finally mastered the skill.
Ellison included the unicycle in his off-to-college packing without hesitation. He uses it as often as he can to get from one class to the next.
“I just thought it would be fun to ride around and faster than walking,” Ellison said. “Some people say jokes like, ‘It looks like you lost a wheel,’ or something like that, and some people are just like, ‘Whoa what is that,’ and now it’s just like, ‘Hey! It’s the unicycle guy!”
Those who know Ellison are not surprised by his cycling talent.
“The unicycle definitely fits Hank’s personality to a T. It
spices up what would normally be a boring walk to class,” said Matthew Lange, Ellison’s RA. “Hank claims that this helps him get to class faster, but if you have ever seen him ride, then you know this just cannot be true.”
Mike Jakucionis, Ellison’s neighbor in Geer, agrees.
“I would certainly say riding the unicycle matches his personality, especially in the entertaining and contributing aspect. The entire campus has clearly made a note of him with some thanks to Yik Yak, which has described him as ‘a legend of Furman,’” Jakucionis said.
An intramural flag football game in November forced Ellison to trade in the unicycle for a pair of crutches and a finger cast until early this semester. During the game, Ellison fractured both his tibia and his finger.
“I turned around to look for a pass and instead saw and heard Hank on the ground grabbing his knee,” Jakucionis said. “As a former football player, you only think of the worst when you see someone down and grabbing their knee the way Hank was. He’s a tough and determined guy and even tried to walk off the field under his own power.”
While, these injuries will keep Ellison off of his unicycle for a while, however, both Ellison and those closest to him are assured he will be back riding his cycle soon enough.
“He’s a very optimistic person … I’m sure when he’s fully recovered and ready, he’ll be back on the unicycle for the entire Furman campus to see and enjoy,” Jakucionis said.
The last time Ellison had an injury setback, he taught himself how to ride a unicycle. Does he have any plans to learn another unique skill?
“Maybe if I find something that looks interesting enough,” Ellison said.