When a young man signs up for the Air Force Academy, he usually has a pretty well-regimented plan in place for what their future holds. After finishing their four-year commitment at the university level, they are also bound to long-term service commitments upon graduation.
Count Kevin Durr among those that felt their future would lie as officers in the military.
However, soccer threw a twist into those plans as the 21-year-old midfielder turned a productive four-year career at Air Force into a spot in Sounders FC preseason training after he was selected 16th overall in the MLS Supplemental Draft in January.
“Soccer wasn’t really on my mind when I made that decision,” Durr said of joining the Air Force Academy. “I knew I was going to go to college in America and I felt like soccer would take a back seat, but it didn’t. That was surprising to me, but it turned out well in the end.”
In the MLS Supplemental Draft, teams can often take risks on players, bringing in players that they have a hunch about.
The Sounders did just that when they selected Durr. Head coach Sigi Schmid liked his two-way play in the midfield and thought his growth on the field in his four years at the Air Force Academy were promising. So promising, in fact, that he was willing to select him with the pick even while knowing that getting Durr on the field would be a difficult task.
Playing professionally wouldn’t be without precedent, though. Former USL Sounder Rich Cullen was the last graduate from the Air Force Academy to be drafted in MLS when the Colorado Rapids selected him in sixth round of the 2000 MLS SuperDraft. He played one year with the Rapids while also serving as an assistant coach with Air Force, then transferred to McChord Air Force Base and played three seasons with the Sounders.
It is a different path to pro soccer, but one that Durr is relishing.
“I know it’s a really special circumstance. I’m just taking it step by step and give it my best when I’m with the Sounders and give my best when I’m doing my job with the Air Force,” he said. “Not a lot of people are in this position. I’d be lucky enough to have one of these opportunities. To have both is great.”
Durr already was on an unusual path to MLS, though.
Born while his father was stationed at West Point, Durr moved to Germany at a young age and grew up in the German school system.
“I’m really in between cultures. Growing up, I was a German. My friends all knew I was American, but they all considered me German,” he smiled. “I still speak better German than English.”
While growing up in Germany, he also got engulfed in the soccer culture, playing for the youth teams with Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich.
When it came time for school, Durr went to the Air Force Academy and is now finishing a degree in Management. In the meantime, he amassed 18 goals and 19 assists in 77 matches, including five goals and five assists in 2012 to help the Academy reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997.
When the Sounders make their final preparations for the 2013 season, Durr will be back in Colorado finishing his degree. When he graduates, he will have 60 days of paid vacation and is hoping to return to the team.
Until that day comes, though, Durr is happy to relish each moment of the process.