If you haven’t seen him around campus, you’ve probably heard about him from your friends or have at least read about him on Yik Yak. The mysterious boy on the unicycle has made quite an impression on many students at the University of Tampa. Although it’s certainly a unique form of transportation, there is more to this student than just his unicycle.
Creed Smith, a sophomore film major from La Grande, Oregon, is all about the good vibes as he sits in Vaughn Courtyard and basks in the Florida sun. He wears a camouflage muscle shirt and cargo shorts, along with black sunglasses and a tan baseball cap. He is holding on to his favorite accessory with his right hand. It has one wheel and is the shiniest silver. He has tan skin, shaggy brown hair and one of those rare smiles that instantly gives away he is a genuine person who enjoys the simplicities of life. Surely, everyone has gone through some form of hell during their lives not excluding Smith. Nevertheless, he chooses not to let the bad stuff bring him down.
The unicycle is only a small part of who Smith is, although it is indeed one of the most magnetic things about him. The 19-year-old is always up for anything. “I have a whole bucket list of things I want to do, and one of them was to ride a unicycle,” Smith said. “For some people, music fulfills them. But for me, trying new and unique things is what gets me through life.”
It all started on Nov. 28, 2013. It was Thanksgiving day and Smith had planned to stay on campus, but he ended up going to a friend’s house, which he was invited to for dinner. There was a bike shop close to the house and Smith walked in, knowing exactly what he wanted.
“I asked for a unicycle and the workers looked at me like I was a crazy clown,” Smith said. “I guess it’s not a very common request after all.”
Smith dedicated an hour of practice every day after that. He knew how to ride a bike, but the unicycle was a whole different story, one that required a great deal of balance and coordination. Although he had to endure falling many times, Smith was determined to get it down.
After all of his hard work and practice, about two months later, he was a unicycle master. Now, Smith takes his unicycle everywhere he goes.
“No matter what it may be, whenever I want to do something, I never give up,” Smith said.
Rachel VanKirk, a sophomore psychology major, who he has been friends with since his freshmen year, said that she admires his abdominal strength and positive outlook on life. “You will rarely see Creed unhappy, and if he ever is, just feed him and things will be better,” VanKirk said.
The two friends lived in Austin hall together on the honor’s floor. VanKirk recalled that they met during the floor meeting on the first night and he sat in the middle of the circle of kids on the floor. When it was his turn to talk, he introduced himself by saying, “the moment you’ve all been waiting for!”
VanKirk described him as an eternally hungry, endlessly goofy mountain man.
“He may forget to close his door when he naps, and he may have terrible taste in music, but he is an incredibly kind person,” VanKirk said. “He has a wonderful heart and cares a lot about other people, especially his friends. He’s like a brother to me, annoyance and all.”
Although anyone would say that Smith is very sure of himself, he wasn’t always that way. As a kid, he had his fair share of being bullied in elementary school. “It was mainly a lot of racism because of the fact that I’m part Pakistani,” Smith said. In the hallways, kids would sometimes snicker at him, called him names, like terrorist or Osama.
“All I could do was try and cope by trying to excel in things,” Smith said.
So, when Smith reached high school, he decided to try out for sports. He played football, wrestling and track. Creed had finally become more confident in himself and had a lot of friends. But he still felt as if there was something missing.
Although Smith grew up as a Christian, he was nowhere near as devout as his father had been. As a young kid, it was very hard for him to deal with his parents’ divorce.
“For a while, any deep relationship was very uncomfortable to me,” Smith said. “In middle school, I felt broken and purposeless. Once I got to high school, I thought that there had to be something more.”
So, one day, Smith picked up his father’s bible and read it. Soon after that, he became closer with God and felt completely fulfilled. “In high school, God definitely got to me. He is a big part of my life now and he has changed me in a lot of ways,” Smith said.
Now, Smith is a part of InterVarsity at UT and leads the men’s small group. They do everything from homeless feeds to bible studies, as well as other activities, like soccer games.
“In a nutshell, we look into what it’s like to follow Jesus,” Smith said. “What I love most about [InterVarsity] is that I’ve been shown how to live more for Jesus by the amazing community down here. I also love how supportive of a community we are to each other.”
Joshua Haupt, who is the organizer of InterVarsity, has been on staff for six years. The 29-year-old has a BA in marketing from USF and is currently the director for the city of Tampa as well. Haupt respects how committed Smith is to bringing people to God and how he gives them a chance respond to the love of God. He describes Smith as an onion.
“At first glance, he is just a chill dude that doesn’t rock the boat and goes with the flow,” Haupt said. “But when you start to peel back the layers, you start to realize how intelligent and deep he is. He is a dedicated person, who cares deeply about God and his relationship with him.”
Besides Smith’s love for God, he also has a love for writing and film. As far as writing goes, he likes to write philosophical themed fictions, as well as poetry on occasion. Eventually, Smith would like to publish some books and make them into blockbusters.
“Even at a young age, I thought it would be so cool to make movies,” Smith said.
Some other activities that he enjoys include, slacklining, flag football intramurals and paint balling. He also started working at Pita Pit recently. Smith does it all, which brings us back to the unicycle. It’s not about impressing others, but it’s about impressing himself.
“I’m not trying to be an attention whore,” Smith said while laughing. “But I do like performing. And it feels a lot classier riding a unicycle to class, in my humble opinion. It’s more unique and an expression of personality to a certain degree.”
Madison Irwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org