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Lavergne still playing soccer, serving country

By Doug Gorman

In a time of chaos, upheaval, uncertainty, and even war, sports can be a great healer.

That's proving to be the case at Kirkuk Airforce Base in Iraq where the sport of soccer is bringing United States' servicemen and Iraqis together for a little bit of fun.

It's all part of "Operation Neighborhood" where a team of Army and Air Force soccer players plays against a group of Iraqi all-stars.

Mt. Zion High School graduate David Lavergne is one of the members who made the United States squad. He is also the only player from the Air Force, with the other 17 players coming from the Army.

"We are really proud of him," said his father Ken Lavergne. "We get e-mails from him often. He is excited about playing soccer."

Lavergne, who is an Airman First Class, serving as an engineer apprentice, was one of 70 players who tried out and made the team.

Succeeding in athletics is nothing new for the long-time soccer player.

Lavergne played four years of soccer at Mt. Zion and also punted for the Bulldogs' football team as a senior. That Mt. Zion football team won the Region 7-AAAA title that season.

After graduating from Mt. Zion in 1998, he played soccer at Young Harris College.

The United States servicemen have already played one game against the squad from Iraq, losing 6-2.

Action continues this weekend when the two squads get together for a game at Kirkuk Olympic Stadium.

More than 30,000 spectators are expected to attend the game.

According to the Airman's parents, Ken, and mother Sharlene, who is a teacher at Hendrix Drive Elementary School, in Forest Park, their son is due home sometimes next month.

David is married to the former Rebecca Reeves, who attended Sprayberry High School and the University of Georgia.

In addition to the soccer games, David and his fellow soccer playing serviceman are helping to construct three fields. They are also purchasing soccer balls and uniforms for the Iraqis.