On the fifth installment of Keeping Up With The Pros, we caught up with midfielder Nick Besler, who is currently playing in the MLS with Real Salt Lake. Besler has racked up 41 caps since being promoted to the MLS side in 2018, earning 24 starts.
Besler helped lead the Irish to the 2013 NCAA National Championship title, the first in program history. The midfielder was named to the 2013 NCAA All-Tournament Team following the title run. The midfielder also captained the Irish during the 2014 campaign, was a two-time All-ACC First Team selection and earned NSCAA All-America Second Team status.
Besler was drafted fifth overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by the Portland Timbers.
Opening Statement: Hey everybody, it’s Nick Besler here from the Class of 2015. I’m here for the next episode of ‘Keeping Up With The Pros.’ I currently play for Real Salt Lake, this will be my fourth year here in Salt Lake City. I previously spent two years with the Portland Timbers right out of Notre Dame.
Q: Why did you choose Notre Dame?
A: A big reason why I chose Notre Dame was because my brother Matt went there. I got to go to a lot of his games with my parents and being able to see the school, the program kind of at a young age and being a fan really showed me how special the school was. Then once Coach (Bobby) Clark started to recruit me it made too much sense. So, it was one of the best decisions of my life.
Q: What is your favorite memory of the ND men’s soccer program?
A: I think my favorite memory is winning the national championship. It’s something that the program had never done before, so to be able to kind of make history and be the first team to do that was really special. And then I’m always going to cherish the relationships I had with all of my teammates. Being in the locker room with those guys every single day is probably what I miss most about Notre Dame soccer.
Q: How did Notre Dame prepare you for your career?
A: I think Notre Dame is a really professional soccer program. I think the way Coach Clark handled everything, we really did kind of feel like a college team that was run very professionally. He always preached, ‘Don’t get too high and don’t get too low,’ and I think for Major League Soccer we play so many games that you’re going to have really big wins and you’re going to have really big losses, so kind of staying that even keel and not getting too high and not getting too low really helped me out in my professional career.
Q: What was your favorite spot on ND’s campus or what is your favorite thing about campus?
A: So I don’t really have a favorite spot—I spent a lot of time at Reckers with my friends and teammates. I’m not sure, I mean obviously Alumni Stadium is a great spot, but there’s so many great spots at Notre Dame it’s hard to choose one. But I think my favorite thing about Notre Dame and campus is the four seasons—being able to get summer, fall, spring, winter—it’s just beautiful, especially during the fall, that’s probably my favorite season there.
Q: Share with us a funny story about you and your teammates.
A: So there’s a lot of funny stories, I’ll try to keep this one short and simple. It was when we won the Elite 8 to advance to the Final Four at Alumni Stadium. We were all really happy, we were kind of doing a lap around the field to thank all the fans, and next thing we know, Firas Mishu, Luke and Mark’s dad, jumped onto the field and did a victory lap with us which was pretty funny. I actually think he might have been more excited than any of the players, which is still to this day really funny.
Q: What’s your favorite soccer memory as a player and as a fan growing up?
A: So I’ve got a few memories that I’ll cherish forever. I think memory one is winning the national championship, just something that you’re at college only once, so if you don’t win one then you can’t go back and do it. So, being able to do that was really special. Memory two would have to be probably playing up against my brother in Kansas City. It was such a cool experience to have friends and family there, fans of Kansas City cheering against me and just to be able to share the field with my brother was something that we’ll talk about for a long time.
I think as a fan, two memories really stick out. Memory one was Landon Donovan’s goal. I was just a younger fan in high school and everyone thought that the U.S. was out and Donovan scored that goal and it was just pure joy, shouting in the living room watching the game. Then another memory would be the next World Cup when my brother was there. Being able to watch him play, it was a lot different than just watching as a fan in the previous World Cup. It felt like I had so much more invested into that World Cup, which was pretty cool to watch him play and go against some of the biggest stars in the world.
Q: What have you been doing to keep busy during self-distancing?
A: I’ve been trying to stay active as much as possible—going out for runs, getting on the bike, doing some cycling stuff, but man it’s getting tough. I’ve been playing video games, I’ve been looking after my dog, the dog keeps me busy quite a bit. So, trying to find new ways, I’ve been working on a puzzle. It’s been too long without completion, so it’s getting difficult over here.
Q: What is a talent or skill you want to develop during self-distancing?
A: It’s not really a skill or a talent, but it’s something that I’ve been trying to do a better job of is staying in contact with my family. I’ve been FaceTiming, they’ve been FaceTiming me a lot more than pre-quarantine, so it’s nice to stay in touch with them, make sure they’re doing okay, and family time is obviously very important.
Closing Statement: Well, that’s it for me. I appreciate you guys tuning in, and Go Irish!