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Team Pete Airman gets kicks in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- 2nd Lt. Kevin Durr, a software project manager with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and stationed at Peterson AFB, is congratulated by teammates during a tune up game against University of Colorado-Colorado Springs soccer team. Durr, wearing number 13, led the Air Force Academy team to the NCAA tournament in 2012 and is a member of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks professional football club. (Courtesy photo)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- 2nd Lt. Kevin Durr, a software project manager with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and stationed at Peterson AFB, is congratulated by teammates during a tune up game against University of Colorado-Colorado Springs soccer team. Durr, wearing number 13, led the Air Force Academy team to the NCAA tournament in 2012 and is a member of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks professional football club. (Courtesy photo)

2nd Lt. Kevin Durr is a software project manager with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Peterson AFB and a member of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks professional football club. (Courtesy photo)

2nd Lt. Kevin Durr is a software project manager with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Peterson AFB and a member of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks professional football club. (Courtesy photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado -- From a young age, 2nd Lt. Kevin Durr fell in love with soccer. Growing up in Germany where his father was a colonel in the U.S. Army, soccer was a typical part of life.

That early exposure to the sport and to the military came together for him. Durr, a software project manager with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, is also a professional soccer player for the Colorado Springs Switchbacks Soccer Club. He is a midfielder for the Switchbacks, which is an expansion team in the United States Soccer League, playing their first season.

Durr played for the Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich youth programs growing up. The two are top-tier teams in the German football system, and playing for them gave young Durr valuable experience. He also played for the first team of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen club.

Even though he lived in a country where soccer is a regular part of life and passion for the sport runs deep, Durr knew he was going to head to the United States to continue his on-pitch career in college. He had plenty of programs to choose from with schools like the U.S. Air Force Academy, West Point, James Madison, Princeton and Seton Hall recruiting him. He chose the Academy.

"Something seemed more appealing about the Air Force," Durr said. "Maybe it was the opportunities available." His brother Stefan played soccer for James Madison at the time and he considered the school for that reason, but in the end the Academy stood above the others.

"The Academy had so many things no other school could get close to," Durr said. "It gave me a way to serve my country in ways I could not at other places." The people at the Academy also swayed his choice. He said the coaches, players and others he came across during his visit solidified his choice. "It seemed like the right fit for me, I felt comfortable in that environment."

Among the many highlights of his USAFA soccer career, defeating New Mexico, ranked fifth nationally at the time, on their own pitch for the conference title during his senior year stands out most. The win advanced Durr and his Falcon teammates to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 years.

As time passed and Durr was assigned to Peterson, he continued to work out on his own, not sure about where his future in terms of soccer would lead. Then fortune smiled on him. The USL expanded and the Colorado Springs Switchbacks Football Club began putting together a roster.

"I was very fortunate the team came to Colorado Springs," Durr said. "I thought, 'I need to do anything I can to get on this team, to be a part of it.'"

After his college career, he was drafted by the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer. He didn't play with the team because his Air Force commitment didn't allow the time needed for participating. After his selection to the Switchbacks, Durr is pleased with the organization's willingness to work with him. He makes it to games and practices as he can and works out on his own in between.

"The club is very understanding and supportive of my situation. They make it easier than it could be in many cases," Durr said.

So far Durr has played 31 minutes over the course of three games for the club and he is savoring every moment.

"It's been very busy, but a lot of fun so far," he said.

Several things factor into his future. He wants to combine the Air Force and soccer, though he admits it will be hard. He might consider coaching at some point, but he said that would come when he is too old to compete because he enjoys playing too much.

"I am having a lot of fun and I hope it can continue. There is always the next level, but you have to be successful with the team you are on. I am going to enjoy the ride while I am on it," he said. "I want to be in the Air Force and play at the highest level possible at the time."

For youngsters looking to improve in the increasingly popular sport, Durr offered advice from his experience.

"The more you practice, the better you become," he said. "Set a higher standard for yourself and do not be satisfied. Try to make every move as excellent as you can."

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