FORT WAYNE – Notre Dame men’s soccer player Nick Besler couldn’t help but be competitive.
The youngest of three brothers would find himself in the middle of a game anytime, anywhere – even when waiting for dinner.
Matt Besler, a former Irish All-American and current Sporting Kansas City defender, roped his younger brothers, Mike and Nick, into a grape-throwing contest when the three were younger. Matt tried to throw a grape across the kitchen into a glass as they sat at the table waiting for dinner.
After Matt’s toss missed badly, Nick said he would be able to do it and his grape bounced off the side of the glass. Mike then got involved and before they knew it, grapes were all over the kitchen.
It was unbelievable, I don’t know how my mom dealt with us at all, Matt said. We always pushed each other and tried to be the best.
The constant competition helped Nick become the player he is today, and his competitiveness will be on display at Parkview Field when Notre Dame plays Indiana in an exhibition match at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Having two older brothers who are both competitive in sports and being the youngest, it really just builds a competitive edge, Nick said. You are always competing, at least at a young age, with two older siblings that are more athletic and developed earlier. It gives you a competitive edge.
Nick, who can play in the central defense or as a defensive midfielder, didn’t just develop a mentality to play soccer from his brothers. He also learned what it takes to be successful away from sports.
I think me and Mike never really realized it at the time, but Nick was looking up to us, Matt said. I think looking back, I think we did set a good example on how to play sports the right way and also how to handle things other than sports. I think Nick learned the right way.
Irish coach Bobby Clark said Nick is a mature player, and credits that to him having a successful older brother.
The younger brother is usually a little bit advanced, Clark said. The older brother is usually automatically a role model whereas the older brother usually didn’t have that role model. His role models would be at the club he played for and his coach where as the younger brother has this role model from a very early age. I think that usually helps.
Nick was able to help Notre Dame in his first season.
The 6-foot, 160-pound native of Overland Park, Kan., appeared in 13 games last season. As he gets ready for his sophomore season, Nick said he is ready to do more for the Irish.
I’m looking to make more of an impact when I’m on the field, Nick said. It was nice getting the experience in my first year. It kind of got any nerves out of the way. It’s like a fresh start, new year, new players around me, and I don’t have to feel I’m on the field to give some other guy a breather. I’m on the field to make an impact and make a difference.