Courtesy: Courtesy Photo
Title IX Anniversary Celebration: Christine Magnant
ANN ARBOR - Christine Magnant remembers the struggle of going from a star high school basketball player to spending a lot of time on the Central Michigan bench.

She didn't realize at the time that coach Laura Golden was teaching her lessons she would use every day in her professional life.

"She taught me that everybody's role is important," says Magnant, 49, director of physical and occupational therapy at the University of Michigan Health System.

"My job was not just to improve my own skills, but to make sure I was pushing those starters every day to play their best," she says. "That was hard for me to learn, because of course, you want to play.

"Now I can see the importance of that so clearly," she says. "I use that philosophy every day as I work with 300 people.

"You don't have to have a doctorate in physical therapy to be important," Magnant says. "You're just as important if you're the clerical person who greets patients at the front desk, or the billing person who helps everybody behind the scenes. We're all important in this process of taking care of patients. We're one team, one family."

That's just one of the lessons Magnant learned in her years as a college athlete at CMU -- lessons she still uses, every day.

"The core of who I am now is greatly affected by my experiences as a student athlete," she says. "In my personal life and my professional life. I don't look at myself as a director -- I look at myself as a coach. I help the people who work with me be the best that they can be."

Magnant graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration from CMU in 1985 then went on to get a second bachelor's in physical therapy from Northwestern. In December she'll earn her doctorate in physical therapy.

A year ago she got a big promotion, and now directs a 300-person department of physical and occupational therapists.

Magnant also has a family life. Her son, Alex, 15, plays hockey. Her success at balancing the demands of career and home come from what she learned as a college student-athlete, she says.

"I'm pretty good at prioritizing and balancing," Magnant says. "I'm not a procrastinator, because as a college athlete, you can't be. You have to be diligent and disciplined."

She remembers the lessons Coach Golden taught her and now she passes them on to her teen son.

"I'm not just telling him how to be a better hockey player," she says, "but how to be a better human being."