The fifth Best of U. feature of 2009-10 profiles Binghamton university runner Chris Gaube. Gaube was an integral member of the Bearcats' 2009 America East Cross Country Championship Team, but he has also had a significant influence as a student and in the community. Gaube will be busy this winter competing with the indoor track & field team, which finished second at last year's conference championship meet. This feature is written by David O'Brian, Assistant Sports Information Director at Binghamton.

 

Making His Mark

To say that Chris Gaube has made an impact at Binghamton University and within the community would be an understatement. He is a co-captain on the current America East champion cross country team and is widely seen as the runner who brought a winning culture to the program. He earned his bachelor’s degree in just three years, graduating with a 3.74 GPA, and is now in his first year as a MBA student at Binghamton. In addition, he is the cross country team representative to the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and is also involved in the Student-Athlete Leadership Institute (SALI). Furthermore, he is the founder of the Relentless Run Training Club, which is geared towards helping younger runners in the Binghamton area.

In every way, Gaube has been a leader. It is a trait that he attributes to his parents. His father, Jerry, was inducted into the Binghamton University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006 for his accomplishments as a pitcher on the baseball team. His mother, Bette Anne, is currently an Assistant Athletic Director, also at Binghamton. 

“I have always been a leader on every team I've been on since I was a child, and that is something I attribute exclusively to my parents,” Gaube said. “They always challenged me to be not only the best athlete or student I could be, but the best person I could be.”

Gaube was the class president at nearby Vestal High School, from where he graduated in 2006. He excelled in track and cross country and was a member of the National Honors Society. Although Gaube was recruited by several colleges, he chose Binghamton for the opportunity to grow in many ways.

“I came to Binghamton in hopes of challenging myself to become a stronger student, athlete and person,” he said. “As far as athletics go, I was intrigued by the opportunity to help build a program from the ground up. The most significant reason I chose Binghamton was for its academics. Binghamton had a strong reputation academically and I knew it would allow me to challenge myself and help propel me to success in the future.”

While Binghamton’s academic prestige was unquestioned four years ago, its men’s cross country program was struggling to adjust to being in the America East Conference. In 2005, the Bearcats placed a program-worst at the conference championship. Since joining the America East in 2001, Binghamton had never finished higher than sixth as a team. Gaube, however, relished the challenge of helping to turn the program around.

“When I got here, I saw a program with great potential but one that needed a slight culture change,” he said. “There really wasn’t a strong desire to be great. It was a sort of settling for mediocrity type of thing. I have been in sports my entire life and that was never the way I approaching things. As a freshman, I was determined to keep the attitude I always had.”

Gaube had little trouble making a difference once he arrived on campus. He was the team MVP in both 2006 and 2008. After finishing eighth again at the conference meet Gaube’s freshman year, the Bearcats improved to third by 2008. It was Gaube’s leadership that was a key factor in the team’s rise in the America East.

“What our team needed before Chris got here was great leadership,” head cross country coach Annette Acuff said. “Chris has been one of the best leaders we’ve ever had. He works very hard, gets along well with everyone and leads by example.”

Without question, however, Gaube’s crowning moment both as a leader and an athlete came this past October when Binghamton completed its amazing turnaround by winning its first-ever America East cross country title. He finished second overall in the men’s race to teammate Erik van Ingen and as a captain, had the honor of accepting the championship trophy afterwards.

“Winning an America East Championship has been the most gratifying experience of my life,” he said. “Being a part of it all, and a part of developing the program, has been something I take great pride in. Personally, I know where we came from and everything it took, and how many people were integral in helping us reach the championship level.”

While winning the championship was a team effort, Gaube’s role in the process was obvious to his teammates and his coaches.

“Chris was both a vocal and physical leader,” freshman Jeff Martinez said. “He inspired teammates with his work ethic in practices and inspired us through his words talking about winning championships.”

"Binghamton cross country has gone from being one of the worst teams in the America East to the best team in three years," head track coach Mike Thompson said. "The genesis of that transformation can be traced directly to the day Chris Gaube decided to run for the Bearcats."

 

In the classroom, Gaube has made just as smooth a transition at Binghamton. He has been named to the America East Commissioner’s Honor Roll every semester and was inducted into the National College Athlete Honors Society in 2008. As Gaube puts it, he has enjoyed the academic challenges as much as the athletic endeavors.

“I think I have become a much stronger student and have become much more focused on my academic and career pursuits,” he said. “Especially over the last year or two, I have tried to really get the best out of my education and not take anything for granted.

As Gaube has developed as a runner and as a student, he has also branched out beyond athletics and academics. His involvement with SAAC and SALI has given him opportunities to make a difference in other ways.

“I like to be an ambassador for our program,” he said. “Binghamton University has done so much for me and in my career as a student-athlete there have been so many individuals that I owe a lot to for helping me reach new heights. Being a part of SAAC and SALI gives me the opportunity to give back to the university. It has also allowed me to form friendships with many other athletes.”

In the summer following his freshman year, Gaube found the Relentless Run Training Club. First, he let the Binghamton Athletic Department know of his desire to start a running club for local high school runners. Once the compliance office approved of his intentions, Gaube went around to local high school meets and contacted coaches he knew to let them know about his program. Having only started running three years earlier, Gaube was motivated by the desire to help younger runners learn what he had only started to know.

“Through the Relentless Run Training Club (RRTC), I try to have an influence on younger athletes and teach local high school runners what it takes to run at the highest level possible,” he said. “Binghamton has taught me so much and I want to pass along that knowledge to younger runners. Also through RRTC, I try to teach the kids to enjoy the sport and not take it so serious that they forget to have fun.”

Gaube’s ability to excel in every way has impressed others around him.

“As a person, he is a renaissance man,” van Ingen said. “He enjoys doing everything in sports, academics and (other activities). He is very well-rounded.”

Since Gaube took a medical redshirt during the 2007 cross country season, he has one more season of eligibility. Next spring, he will leave Binghamton with both his bachelor’s degree and MBA. The legacy he will leave promises to be significant in athletics, academics and within the community. In many ways, it already is.

 

America East: Developing Champions in Academics, Athletics and Leadership