on the ball

I was never a sports kid. I was the kid who was reading and didn't even notice that a sports event was nearby (except for Nebraska Husker football games--everyone in the state knew all about those). Otherwise, I just didn't care. And then a local soccer coach told me I should join his team. I wasn't sure why he said that, as I was the most unathletic person I knew, but I gave it a shot. And from that fifth-grade team developed my lifelong love of soccer. I am so fortunate now to live in Kansas City, where we have the best team in the MLS, and where I get to see several of my favorite local players play nationally and internationally as well. One of those local players is defender Matt Besler. 

Last year, Besler was out for a while with a bad concussion, and his doctor suggested he write to help his brain recover more quickly. So he wrote a journal and did some blogging, and from there grew his new book, No Other Home. A native Kansas Citian, Besler is the captain of Sporting KC and a member of the men's national team. He's not a flashy player, but his consistency, his dedication, his willingness to work harder than anyone else, and his humble confidence shine through and make him someone to watch no matter what team he's on. 

No Other Home isn't an autobiography. It's more of a discussion of the journey that he took to professional sports. He talks about his family and his faith and about the difficult decisions and sacrifices he's had to make along the way. He talks about making it onto the U. S. Men's National Team and about being benched by injury. He shares his inspirations and his struggles, his family and his teams. The book is honest and extremely readable, and you can sit down and read it start to finish or pick through and read whatever part strikes you at that moment. It's ideal for kids interested in sports and for the adults who make that journey alongside them. 

Matt Besler is no ordinary sports hero. He is quiet and unassuming. He's been underestimated on every team he's been on, having to work harder and dog deeper to prove himself. But he always does, and the team is far better off having him on their pitch. It's also easy to underestimate him as a writer. But No Other Home proves that he belongs on every bookstore shelf, and we are all far better off for his sharing his stories with us. 


Galleys for No Other Home were provided by Andrews McMeel Publishing through NetGalley, with many thanks.