Phil DiPietro – Pittsburgh Dynamo Soccer (July 18, 2011):
First, can you tell readers about the Dynamo Soccer club – who is eligible to play and who you play against?
Any child 5 years old to 18 years old is eligible to play soccer for Dynamo. We have an in-house, or recreation league, where the Dynamo teams play each other. We also field travel teams that play teams from other soccer clubs around the Pittsburgh area.
70% of our kids play in our recreation league.
How is the organization run and funded, and how can others get involved?
Dynamo receives almost all of its funding through registration fees, which are set to just cover expenses.
Dynamo receives enormous support from the city of Pittsburgh, which provides and maintains the Schenley Oval and the other fields we use. Dynamo is a volunteer organization, and we are always looking for good people!
You do not need to have a child playing with Dynamo in order to volunteer. Grandparents make great coaches. If you are interested, go to our website http://www.pittsburghdynamo.org/home.php and send an email to the contact persons.
How did you personally get involved with the organization?
I moved to Pittsburgh six years ago. My son and daughter were in 3rd and 4th grade. They joined the recreation league, and I volunteered to coach.
Have you found registration numbers to be increasing steadily – how have you made the team known to those in Pittsburgh?
Dynamo registrations are up 20% from two years ago.
This past spring we had 1,000 kids playing soccer. We rely mostly on word of mouth for advertising.
How hard is it to get kids interested in soccer in a city so focused on football, hockey and now, baseball?
It is not hard at all. Soccer is incredibly accessible.
If you put eight six-year-old kids on a patch of grass with a soccer ball and a 30 second explanation of the rules, it is impossible for them not to have fun.
And the game has great depth. You can play for a decade and still have lots to learn.
Where have some of the team “alumni” ended up over the years – what schools/teams?
We do not keep track of alumni, though we ought to.
Dynamo started in 1972 so our alumni are everywhere. We are starting a Facebook page, so maybe that will help.
One Dynamo alumni, Devon Nguyen, plays for a Beadling team that will compete for the 16-year-old-boys national title next week. Essentially, Devon is on one of the best four teams in the country in his age group. This is an outstanding accomplishment for Devon, and also for the Beadling Soccer Club and for the Olympic Development Program in western Pennsylvania.
What do you focus on most in terms of player development?
Dynamo is focused mostly on kids having fun and getting exercise, especially for kids under ten years old.
We embrace the training guidelines from the umbrella soccer organization, PA West. There are lot of aspects to the game, but the clear focus in the early years is on foot skills and decision making.
How do you determine what positions to assign players, especially the younger ones?
Dynamo recommends that kids under the age of twelve rotate around the field and learn the different aspects of the game.
What’s your biggest sense of satisfaction as a coach?
Moments with a team when the players stop looking to me first and their group focus transitions to point somewhere in the middle of the field and they start making the game their own.
Do you work with any of the local soccer clubs like the Riverhounds? If so, how?
Dynamo does not have any formal alliances.
Many of our kids take advantage of the skill development courses offered by the Riverhounds, which are excellent.
We also coordinate winter training sessions with the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh men’s soccer team, Joe Luxbacher, who is similarly a highly-skilled teacher.
What advice would you give to younger kids and their parents who are interested in seriously pursing a collegiate and/or professional career in soccer?
“Reconsider” is the first word that comes into my mind.
I might not be the best person to ask. 99.99% of us will play soccer for the thrill and comradeship. Fame and income are not a part of the equation. My advice for a kid who loves the sport is to take his or her career as an athlete one step at a time with short term goals and make sure you are having fun all the way along.
Beware of overdoing it with numbers of teams and training sessions. Appreciate and enjoy every opportunity you have to play soccer.
Any other thoughts for readers?
Registration for Dynamo’s fall season is open now.
It is great fun! http://www.pittsburghdynamo.org/home.php