The St. Helen Unicycle Drill Team is ready for its next challenge

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The St. Helen Unicycle Drill Team started in 1965 by Fr. James Moran. Today the team competes in national championships and hopes to make it to Ft. Collins, CO, in July.

By Mary Malik

Sometimes history repeating itself is a good thing, especially when a whole new generation shares in a unique tradition with a special history all while getting some exercise and having a lot of fun. And the history of the St. Helen Unicycle Drill Team in Newbury is all about having fun—and learning some lifelong skills along the way.

“The drill team was started in 1965 by Fr. James Moran, pastor of St. Helen at the time,” says Steve Kekedy, head coach and coordinator of the team. “He wanted the students to get more exercise. He bought the original unicycle and incorporated it into the school’s gym curriculum.”

After that, the group performed in their first parade in Solon that same year and went on to entertain crowds at Nixon’s inauguration in 1969, Carter’s in 1977, the Macy’s Parade and countless bowl games all around the country.

“Then in 1993, the team disbanded as kids became interested in other activities,” says Steve. “In 2013, some of the alumni like myself got nostalgic and started to get interested again. We started riding, which led to starting the program up again at St. Helen.”

And start up again it did. Today the team is cycling its way right back into national competitions and it needs your help.

“We’ve competed in the national unicycle championships in the past and done very well,” says Steve. “This year they take place in Ft. Collins, CO, in July and we’re looking for help from the community to defray the costs. We’re holding fundraisers and doing all we can to make this trip a reality.”

And there are several ways you can help. Fundraising efforts include T-shirt sponsorships, direct donations, a golf package raffle or simply ordering at Chipotle in Mayfield Heights.

“On Sunday, June 23, you can support the team by eating at the Chipotle on Eastgate Drive,” says Steve. “A percentage of the proceeds benefits the team. It’s as simple as that.”

Steve wants you to know that the St. Helen Unicycle Drill Team is not just for kids. Once learned, it’s a lifelong skill and riders of all ages have taken part in the drill team over the years.

“I learned the benefits of cycling by being part of the team,” says Steve. “It’s great exercise and improves balance and coordination, but it also helped me in other ways. I was shy and introverted as a kid, and it helped build my confidence. I was good at something and liked talking about it. And now I’m happy giving back to the school and to the sport.”

Steve learned that developing skills isn’t all about the technical aspects of unicycling, although those are important. Unicycling has become an extreme sport involving tricks and flips. Of course, you can learn those, but it’s the more intangible skills you learn and develop that make a lifelong difference.

“Fr. Moran expected a lot of the team members and we always performed well,” says Steve. “But we all learned a great deal, too. We are proud to be ambassadors for the sport and carry on this great tradition that he started. Hopefully we can get to Colorado in July and continue to make him proud.”

For information on donating to the St. Helen Unicycle Drill Team or joining the team, check the website,, or contact Steve Kekedy at 440-708-6324.