The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) After meeting over the summer, Elemy Colome and Jackie Lyons realized they shared a goal of finding a way to meld their basketball skills with their careers. So they began to consider just what that might look like. Four months later they are 50-50 business partners in “Hardwood Hustle” where they teach basketball skills to young players.
Elemy Colome and Jackie Lyons have at least these four things in common: They are passionate about basketball. They played competitive Division 1 ball in college. They love to win, and even moreso, they hate to lose.
Now as business partners, they are taking all of those elements and banking on the success of their new endeavor: Hardwood Hustle.
Colome, 25, of Lawrence and a longtime member of the city’s Boys & Girls Club, and Lyons, of Reading, met while working at a basketball camp this past summer in Wakefield. In doing so, they chatted a few times about their interesting journeys in basketball.
Colome started out at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, before transferring to the University of Rhode Island and then completing a post-graduate year at Syracuse University in New York — all Division 1 schools.
She then made the Dominican Republic national team this past year and remains a member.
Lyons , 31, started out at the Division 1 University of New Hampshire before finishing two years as a starter at Merrimack College, then Division 2. Known for her three-point shot, she started coaching after graduating and earned the position of head coach at Milton Academy.
After meeting over the summer, the women realized they shared a goal of finding a way to meld their basketball skills with their careers. So they began to consider just what that might look like.
Four months later they are 50-50 business partners in Hardwood Hustle off Route 114 in Middleton, where they teach basketball skills to youngsters in small groups with no more than six players per instructor at a time.
“We are here for kids and teenagers to work on their games before, during and after a season,” Colome said.
The two did a soft opening over the last two weeks and will celebrate their grand opening this Sunday.
“I never would’ve imagined that we could’ve pulled this off this quickly,” Lyons said. “But we hit it off when we first met and realized we had a lot in common. One thing led to another and here we are, running our own business.”
The two bring complementary strengths to the business model. Colome is a whiz on social media and Lyons, a graphic designer in college, builds websites.
“I give Elemy something and she posts it immediately, and because of her big following we get a lot of responses,” Lyons explained. “I love graphic designing, so that’s where I can create some artistic drawings.”
When training begins, though, they both are at the head of the class.
“We have similar views when it comes to teaching styles. We both believe in positive reinforcement over yelling and screaming,” Lyons said. “The key for us is smaller groups, where kids are getting better instruction. If someone needs a little help with a drill, we can see it and fix it.”
Prior to Hardwood Hustle, Colome and Lyons each had their own one-on-one teaching clinics, which they taught at whatever court they could find.
“It was all through word of mouth and some parents loved it, but would say, ‘It would be better if you had your own place.’ I heard that a lot,” Colome said. “That’s when I first started thinking about getting my own place.”
The facility is 1,500 square feet, just under a half-court and, of course, three-point line. The walls of the facility are decorated with murals resembling “Miami Vice” color tones.
“That was on purpose,” Colome said. “We wanted a colorful atmosphere. It’s the first thing people notice when they come in.”
They said they haven’t come across any competition from similar operations run by women only.
“We’ve both asked around and nobody knows of other women who are doing what we’re doing,” Colome said. “This is so exciting. I can’t believe it sometimes. But it’s true. and we plan on being very successful.”
Even while operating the business, Colome can continue her career on the Dominican Republic national team, times during which Lyons will cover for her.
“Having Elemy play on the national team is great for us,” Lyons said. “I know her continuing to play was important for her and I’m all for it. That what business partners do; they cover for each other.”
Hardwood Hustle is scheduling small groups into December and January.
“We know a lot of AAU coaches and if a kid needs some work and individual instruction, which isn’t easy to do during a season, we can do it here,” Colome said.
“We’re up and ready to go,” she added. “Our dreams have come true. Now it’s time to work.”
You can email Bill Burt at [email protected]
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