Sept. 20, 2011
The following feature appeared in the fall 2011 issue of the Cal Sports Quarterly magazine.
By Herb Benenson
Maxime Chevee doesn't recall a thing about the first time he lived in Berkeley. But now that he's heading into his senior year as one of the veteran leaders of the Golden Bear men's cross country team, he has accumulated memories that will never be forgotten.
Of course, Chevee can be excused for not knowing too much about the two years of his childhood growing up near the Cal campus. After all, he hadn't quite reached three years old when his father, Jean-Paul, completed his MBA at the Haas School of Business.
Soon after, the Chevee family returned to its native France. Although born in Paris, Chevee considers St.-Julien-en-Genevois, a town near the Swiss border, his home.
Chevee enjoyed running through high school, but when it came time to decide on a place to pursue higher education, he looked toward the United States and quickly focused on his father's alma mater.
"My parents said if you want to go to the U.S., you can," Chevee said. "They weren't pushing for Berkeley, but I was excited about it because I knew I live here before. The main reason I came here was because in France, you can't really run and have good academics at the same time. You can have really good academics, but I'd have to give up running completely. I really like running. So, I applied and got in."
Chevee entered Cal after concentrating on a scientific path in high school. He initially thought he would major in physics and took an introductory course in the topic. Although he enjoyed the subject matter, he changed his emphasis to molecular and cell biology and now expects to study for his Ph.D.
Over the course of this past summer, Chevee, who has twice earned second-team Pac-10 All-Academic honors, worked in a neurobiology lab on campus, which included cutting-edge stem cell research. The topic has so inspired him that he may write an honors thesis on it this year.
Chevee's route through his cross country career has also become much clearer as he enters his final campaign. After walking on as a freshman - he literally just showed up at head coach Tony Sandoval's office after arriving at school - he has developed into a key member of the squad.
Chevee's breakthrough came about midway through the 2010 season when he was held out of the more prestigious Pre-NCAA Invitational and instead competed at the Bronco Invitational in Santa Clara.
"I had the opportunity to race in front and not be in the pack completely lost," he said. "I raced fast and realized I can run fast."
Chevee went on to place 19th at the Pac-10 Championships and 18th at West Regionals - earning all-region honors - to help the Bears reach the national meet for the third time in four years. With Cal's top three runners having graduated, Chevee, along with junior Collin Jarvis, will be asked to lead a young squad during the upcoming fall.
"I'm old now," Chevee said. "I didn't think becoming a senior was going to come up that fast. Collin and I had good sea-sons last year, and we both hope to be even stronger this season. Last year, I was not very good at the beginning, so I had nothing to say. I was just trying to make the top seven. This year, I'm going to have to run fast and lead the other guys, which is really exciting."
Regardless of the eventual outcome, Chevee will certainly have a career to remember.