In March of 2016, Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler suffered his first and only concussion to date while training with the US men’s national team. The injury kept him away from the field for about three weeks, and as he recuperated, he finally found enough time to contemplate his life and career, without the pressure of training.
Specifically, his thoughts turned back to the idea of writing a book. Publishing houses had already approached him before, particularly after his turn starting in all four of the USMNT’s games in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. But at the time, Besler, who now boasts 44 international caps, didn’t feel the timing was right. And then, suddenly, he was forced into downtime.
“I had some time away from the field,” Besler said recently at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City. “One of the recommendations by the doctors was to start keeping a journal, a daily journal. They said that would help; that was one of the best things you could do to keep your brain active to try and start feeling better. I started doing those, and that’s when I got the idea that a book might be something that I wanted to pursue.”
As the idea gelled further, Besler decided he wanted to tell a very Kansas City story — and, thus, that it would be important to team up with a Kansas City imprint. He chose, then, to team up with the local publishing company Andrews McMeel Universal. Editor Patrick Regan helped Besler start the writing process, a back-and-forth collective effort that resulted in a book shaped as a collection of posts — anecdotes, photos and quotes.
“I never sat down for two weeks and wrote the book,” said Besler of the process. “I wrote a couple pieces on airplanes on road trips. Randomly just on a walk with my family, and something would come to mind, and I’d be like, ‘Oh! I need to go home and write for 15 minutes … I just did it as it came to me and tried to enjoy it.”
The idea, he says, was to flesh out what he hoped to share during often-fleeting fan encounters.
“One of the main reasons why I wrote this was I get asked a lot of the same questions by fans and younger players and parents at appearances and stuff,” he explained. “I’ve never really had the time to truly answer them because it’s always in a public setting or you’re rushed to give an answer. I’ve always wanted to actually sit down and take the time to answer some of these questions that people might have for a professional soccer player.
“When I would run into fans on the street or at appearances, I started writing down all the questions that people asked me and kept a little notebook of all of them.”
The title, No Other Home, reinforces a theme familiar to many Sporting Kansas City fans. But while there is no other home, no other club and no other story for Matt Besler, he does not want readers to assume that there is no other way, besides his, to success.
“I don’t try to preach in the book or say, ‘This is the right way to do things and if you do this, this and this, you’re going to get a college scholarship and become a professional soccer player,’” he said. “Hopefully people can take certain things from those stories and use them how they want to. If people just read the book and get some laughs at some of the funny stories and want to pass it on, then great. If people want to use the book as a guide or a journal and take notes and underline quotes and really get into it, even better. But I really do think, and I hope, there is something in there for everybody.”