Jaclyn (Jackie) Lyons ’13 transferred to Merrimack to gain the ultimate college experience: a robust education through the graphic design program and a chance to play basketball as a Warrior. Through her experience at Merrimack, Lyons found a way to integrate her lifelong passion. Her vision and motivation led her to create Hardwood Hustle.
After hanging up her jersey, Lyons landed her first job at ISlide, a premium custom sandal company. The start-up allowed Lyons to jump right in the creativity process, designing content and footwear for professional and college sports teams. “I loved working within a small team,” said Lyons, “being a part of the starting five (employees) was the closest thing to college basketball for me.”
Lyons left ISlide to pursue coaching at Milton Academy. Lyons served as a basketball coach, athletic director and physical education coordinator. She became an advocate for her players on and off the court allowing her intuition and leadership capabilities to shine. After five years Lyons was ready to take on a new chapter at Shooting Touch.
Now, working for the nonprofit as a media and marketing development associate has reminded Lyons of the importance of mentorship and responsibility. Through social media, outreach and basketball driven events, Lyons helps the company follow its mission to use the “power of sport to bridge opportunity gaps for youth and women.”
Through a mutual friend, Lyons met her match, former Syracuse University women’s basketball player, Elemy Colome. The two brought their experiences together and co-created Hardwood Hustle, a year-round basketball training organization. The former players understand the commitment it takes to invest in becoming a better athlete. Hardwood Hustle helps motivate athletes whether they are five years old or training for semi-pro.
Lyons has been highly impacted by her female coaches throughout her basketball career. “There are not a lot of female coaches within this area. It is important for young girls and boys to have female role models that enable self-confidence but also help improve skill.” Lyons hopes that her efforts will inspire young athletes to feel empowered and achieve their goals.
Leaving Milton Academy to join a nonprofit and start her own company was a new endeavor for Lyons that has been exciting but different. “I have never really been big on change,” Lyons admits, “but my coaches at Merrimack taught me to go outside of your comfort zone- experience discomfort. It may not be the most desirable but it sure is worth it.” In such a short time of being in business, Lyons has already felt rewarded.
Lyons reflects on the unforgettable opportunities she has received while at Merrimack. Playing basketball and creating an unbreakable bond with teammates and coaches have made her value teamwork, responsibility and leadership. The connections Lyons built as a student athlete have only benefited her throughout her journey allowing Merrimack to follow her no matter where she is