Justine Plourde, the beloved vice president of Lynn Youth Hockey, died April 2, 2020, following a courageous 18-month battle against cancer. She was 40 years old.
She was the wife of J.R. Plourde, with whom she shared 12 years of marriage. She was the mother of two children, JoJo and Lexi, and the daughter of Benedetto Carenza and Helen Morrill.
She was a hockey mom and a dance mom, never missing a chance to attend her son JoJo’s hockey games or her daughter Lexi’s dance competitions.
Justine Plourde was a successful young woman in her field, serving as an assistant vice president at SBLI for the past 20 years.
It was husband, J.R., a former high school athlete, who helped advance the family’s love of sports. J.R. became the LYH coaching coordinator and an assistant coach of the Lynn Jets high school team.
When their son joined the youth hockey program, Justine became admired by peers. She joined other parents in the rooting section, developing a bond in the ice rinks where the games and practices take place at all hours of the day. She cheered on all players equally. She knew winning mattered, but it mattered more that JoJo was having a ball wearing the Lynn uniform and sharing such a great experience with other kids his age playing a sport he loved.
And oh, the Justine Plourde smile – some liked to say it arrived at the Connery Rink before she did.
Lynn Youth Hockey President Brian Boisson recognized immediately Justine’s high energy, the kindness, the spirit, the way people felt welcomed and uplifted by her presence. The LYH president wanted Justine to be part of his leadership team.
“So I went to Justine and I recruited her to help build something great in the city that both our sons enjoy,” recalled Boisson.
And together Brian Boisson and Justine Plourde and other dedicated board members did just that, giving Lynn Youth hockey parents and players an organization they could be proud of, one where they could enjoy hockey and represent the city, but more importantly create new friendships.
From Kevin Clougherty’s amazing “Learn to Skate” program, to the new hockey jerseys, to the season-ending awards banquets where the trophies were impressive and the enthusiasm in the hall overflowed with joy, Lynn Youth Hockey had become an important chapter in young players’ lives, with the Boisson-Plourde combination leading the charge.
Brian Boisson knew he had picked exactly the right person to be his running mate.
“Justine was ‘the smile of LYH,’’’ said Brian. “If she was not recruiting kids off the ice, welcoming members at our Learn To Skate sessions on Saturday mornings, or cheering on her favorite player (son JoJo), she was always smiling.”
Justine volunteered in all areas of Lynn Youth Hockey. “She has been a rock for the LYH organization, from promoting the program, keeping things organized, and most of all with a smile on her face,” said Brian.
Just read the forthcoming comments from three Lynn Youth Hockey parents, Lindsay Northrop, Crystal Lopez, and Alicia Boisson. They all got to know Justine through Lynn Youth Hockey, all becoming united by their desire to make their sons’ athletic experience the most fulfilling, foundation setting, and memorable they could as proud hockey moms.
Lindsay Northrop said she first met Justine Plourde as “a fellow hockey mom.”
“Our kids were kind of on the ice at the same time and we got to know each other – she was always friendly and always kind to everybody – just a warm, inviting person,” said Lindsay.
The two women became even closer after Justine was diagnosed with cancer.
“I’m a fellow breast cancer survivor, so we connected after her diagnosis,” said Lindsay, a two-time survivor. “We talked through some of her treatments, how she was feeling, and she ended up joining our young women’s breast cancer support group – so we were able to connect in that way as well.”
Lindsay provided encouragement and support during Justine’s difficult times. “She really fought cancer gallantly. She really had been through the ringer from Day 1 where she had other complications, went through radiation and chemotherapy. Even in my last conversation with her, she was hopeful and really fighting hard for her kids. She showed so much courage. She was at her son’s hockey games, just trying to be there for her kids in any way she could as much as she could because it meant a lot to her.
“I know this past Christmas, Justine was in the hospital right before and she kept saying to me, she wanted to be home for Christmas – and to my knowledge, she was able to do that,” said Lindsay.
Lindsay said she broke the news of Justine Plourde’s passing to the other members of the breast cancer survivors group this week. “It’s so sad. Justine really fought hard, for sure. She was a wonderful lady and a wonderful mom,”
Crystal Lopez became close with Justine Plourde over the last four years. “She was my first, best hockey mom.”