To the Max: Foster is the ‘beast of the east’

When it comes to track and field, few people have made a habit of victory more than Red Storm sprinter Maxcine Foster.

Foster, a native of Westmoreland, Jamaica, began her quest for racing supremacy when her high school math teacher introduced her to the school’s track and field coach. It was a seamless transition from equations to sprinting and a star athlete was soon born.

The rest may be history, but it wasn’t all fun and games for Foster early on in her career. Before her mastery of the 400-meter race, she originally tried her hand at some shorter events.

“I started out running the 100-meter, I guess it was a little too fast for me,” said Foster. “I didn’t make the final at the boys and girls’ championship, so my high school coach introduced me to the 400-meter which I love with a passion.”

She said that her mother, along with the Jamaican track athletes who have shined before her, provides her with the inspiration to hang with the rest of the sport’s brightest competitors.

Although there are certainly more impressive moments to come, Foster says that her most memorable event as an athlete so far was representing her country in the 2003 Pan-Am Games.

While representing Jamaica, she coasted to a second-place finish in the 400-meter relay with a personal-best time of 54.68 seconds. However it was more recently, when she realized for herself that she had some real talent.

“At the indoor 2007 ECAC indoor championship, I was so nervous, and scared of everyone in the race,” Foster said.

“However [my coach] told me that everyone in the race is scared of me, so I should just run as fast as I can. With that motivational speech, I ran so fast that all I remember was being at the finish line first. That made me the fastest 400-meter athlete in the conference.”

Outside of running, Foster’s hobbies include learning the keyboard, and playing the drums at her local church. She also enjoys watching television, babysitting, and playing field hockey and volleyball to keep her competitive fire burning.

Before a race, she listens to reggae music – specifically, Beenie Man – and does some meditation for preparation.

“I pray, and then visualize myself running and winning,” she said. “[I say to myself,] ‘Hey Maxcine, you are the beast of the east, so run that 400-meter and show them how it’s done.'”

St. John’s head track and field coach James Hurt had nothing but good things to say about having an athlete of Maxcine’s caliber representing the school’s trademark red and white.

“As a coach, it is a great opportunity to work with someone of Maxcine’s ability,” Hurt said. “Seeing her run in the Big East and ECAC indoor championships two years ago made it clear that she can compete with the very best in the sport.”

“Awesome is the word that comes to mind when Max rolls out those long legs of hers on the drive to the finish line,” he said.

“From a coach’s view it is something special and fun to witness.”

Fellow Jamaican Venisa Clarke-Lee elaborated on her teammate. “Being an athlete myself, it is wonderful having someone on my team that has similar dreams,” said Clarke-Lee. “It inspires me to be the best athlete I can be.”

When asked what professional sprinter Foster reminded her of, Clarke-Lee said that she’s in a class all by herself.

“In truth, I just think she is unique,” Clark-Lee said. “When I look at her, I see a professional athlete, and I believe that she can be one of the best.”

Volunteer track coach Martin Nutty clarified the difference between Foster and her racing peers.

“There are two types of sprinters,” Nutty said. “Some are chest thumpers and are all talk. Others, like Maxcine, are quiet and just get the job done. She lets her feet do the talking.”

After college, Foster wants to leave a lofty legacy that includes being the first female Jamaican world-record holder in the 400-meter race.

In addition to being a runner at the professional level, some of her other occupational goals include becoming a high school Physical Education teacher and eventually having her own recreational sport center.

With her blazing speed and iron will, her ambitions shouldn’t be too difficult for her to catch up to.