Courtesy: CMU Athletic Communications
Title IX Anniversary Celebration: Erica Takach
CHICAGO - People often remark on Erica Takach's 80-hour work weeks as a partner at New York Life in Chicago.

Piece of cake, she tells them, compared to her rigorous life as a college athlete.

"When I was at Central playing field hockey, I had to be an extremely determined person," says Takach, 28. "Being involved in athletics at Central was a great transition to the real world."

Her "real world" involves managing more than 20 people. She started at New York Life as an agent right out of college in 2006 with a degree in business administration and a marketing major. A top scorer, she had a full-ride scholarship to play CMU field hockey.

Three years later, Takach was a partner. She pins a lot of her success on her years as a college athlete.

"I say to my parents all the time, ‘Thank you for sending me to Central to play field hockey.' Without it, I wouldn't have the tools I have for my career," she says.

"Being a Division 1 athlete and graduating in four years taught me how to juggle. Now, that time management I learned is huge.

"Some days, it's like trying to spin one of those plates on a stick," she says with a laugh. "Trying to keep it spinning so it doesn't crash to the ground and break."

Athletics wasn't just something she did on the side, Takach says. It was an integral part of her college education, as vital as her classes.

"It was your life," she says. "College revolved around field hockey."

As team captain her senior year, she learned leadership skills crucial to her management job today, she says.

"I learned how to motivate people and keep them going when things get tough," she says. She also learned how to take constructive criticism -- and use it.

"The coach, Cristy Freese, told me what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong," she says. "You learn to use the advice they give you.

"I needed that when I started at New York Life," she says. "I didn't know how to build a business. People taught me. I had to use their advice."

Takach left CMU with friendships that will last a lifetime, she says, with teammates from all over the country and world.

"It teaches you about commonality," she says. "It makes you a worldly person."

Takach values the traits she gained from sports so much that she now looks for them in others.

"I like to hire athletes," she says. "It's something I look for. My team includes a lot of women athletes.

"When people say to me, ‘Wow -- you work so hard,' I think, ‘This is nothing.'"

She laughs.

"Thank God I had field hockey. It made me tough."