Heyl: Soccer moms just kickin’ it |

Heyl: Soccer moms just kickin’ it

You can’t spend every waking moment trying to protect America from Chinese cyber-snoops.

So in her spare time, Lorrie Cranor plays soccer.

Cranor, a Carnegie Mellon University professor, is director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory and co-director of CMU’s Master of Science program in information technology-privacy engineering.

But at the Schenley Park sports oval in Oakland, she perhaps is best known as being the brain behind Dynamoms, an instructional soccer program for women over 30 who have little or no experience playing the sport.

About to conclude its second season, Dynamoms is an adult offshoot of the Pittsburgh Dynamo Youth Soccer League, which has more than 1,000 players ages 4 to 19. Cranor conceived the program as a natural extension of Dynamo’s traditional season-ending games that pit the kids against their parents.

“At the end of those games, a number of moms would say, ‘Well, that was fun. If we only knew what we were doing out there,’” said Cranor, 43, of Squirrel Hill. “I started talking to some of the other moms about the need for a soccer clinic, and then I read a book about a woman in New Jersey who had started a soccer club for women.”

Cranor approached Dynamo’s board of directors about the idea, and they were receptive. The initial season last fall was so successful, Dynamoms rented the gym at the Ellis School in Shadyside to continue learning the sport during the winter.

Since April, 30 Dynamoms ranging in age from 30 to their mid-50s regularly have strapped on their shin guards and gathered at the Schenley Oval’s grass fields on Saturday afternoons.

With two coaches doubling as referees supervising the proceedings, their 90-minute sessions are divided equally between drills and instruction and scrimmages.

“The coaches are ladies with substantially more soccer experience than the players,” Cranor said. “They double as referees. Sometimes, they’ll stop us while we’re playing to explain what should have just happened on the field.”

Cranor acknowledges the scrimmages lack the fierce competitive spirit of a typical World Cup match.

“I don’t know there’s what I would call a killer instinct,” she said. “When someone scores a goal, everyone cheers no matter what team they’re on.”

Veteran Dynamo coach Kitty Julian, whose day job is marketing and communications director at the Ellis School, raves about the Dynamom experience.

“Even though none of us are very good, it’s exceeded my expectations,” she said. “The fun and the camaraderie and the pleasure that comes from being (in Dynamoms) has been a huge positive influence in my life. I hope to be playing for as long as I can walk.”

Even with the program’s initial success, Cranor said there are no plans for the Dynamoms to evolve into a competitive adult women’s team.

“We started this as a program for people who don’t know what they’re doing,” she said.

“That’s our niche, and we’re sticking to it.”

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.