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    CATCHING UP WITH ...

    Reading High grad touching lives on and off the court

    10nocatch- Reading High grad Justine Lyons (bottom) with the international team, working with colleagues with Shooting Touch, in Rwanda. (handout)
    handout
    In March, Reading High grad Justine Lyons (bottom right) went to Rwanda with her colleagues from Shooting Touch to spread the word on basketball.

    By day, Justine Lyons is a registered nurse, working in the medical intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.

    The game of basketball, however, remains very much part of her life. A 1,000-point scorer, team captain, and Globe All-Scholastic her senior season playing for Kim Penney at Reading High, Lyons was a scholarship player at Saint Anselm College.

    An East Boston resident, she still gets together with her college teammates on a regular basis and they play basketball once per week.

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    “They’re my best friends and we hang out together all the time,” Lyons said. “That’s one of the best things to come out of college. Six of us live within about a half mile of each other. It’s really, re

    Saint Anselm Athletics
    Justine Lyons (left) was a four-year player at Saint Anselm.
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    ally special.”

    She rooms with her younger sister, Jackie, also a 1,000-point scorer at Reading who played collegiately at New Hampshire and Merrimack.

    But her involvement with the game extends beyond lacing up the sneakers once a week. Lyons is a program director for the Boston-based Shooting Touch, a nonprofit that uses “the power of basketball to educate and empower young people around the world. One of her college teammates, Megan Howard, is also a director. Last month, Lyons and a group from Shooting Touch, including members of the Noble and Greenough girls’ basketball team, spent two weeks in Rwanda and helped run a basketball tournament for youth.

    “There’s not a lot to do over there and it gives the kids a sense of purpose and something to feel important about,” Lyons said. “You didn’t even have to speak the language. Basketball was the language. It was really cool. It was a very humbling experience and it showed how basketball can bring people together no matter your age, what language you speak, or where you’re from.”

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    A sociology major at Saint Anselm, Lyons went back to school, earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, and has been a nurse since 2011.

    “Basketball has given me everything in life with the people I’ve met and the connections I’ve made,” she said.

    “Everything I have going on in my life is directly related to basketball. I think it builds the foundations in you for things like leadership and confidence, passion, and enthusiasm.”

    Allen Lessels can be reached at lessfam321@gmail.com.