Aug. 4, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Former Notre Dame standout and current Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler and his brother Nick, a rising freshman on the Fighting Irish men’s soccer team, on Wednesday were honored with the inaugural Kevin Gray Award.
Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer (MLS) announced Friday the establishment of the Kevin Gray Player of the Year Awards for soccer players in the Kansas City area in honor and memory of the late Kansas City Sports Commission president Kevin Gray.
The Kevin Gray Awards consist of honors for both a male and female Youth Player of the Year given to local high school seniors based on their performance in both high school and club soccer throughout the year and an Adult Player of the Year award to be given to a current collegiate or professional player with Kansas City roots.
Matt and Nick Besler hail from Overland Park, Kan.
Matt received the Kevin Gray Adult Player of the Year Award, while Nick was named the Youth Male Player of the Year. Caroline Gray copped the Youth Female Player of the Year Award. A selection committee of coaches involved in high school, club, college and professional soccer in Kansas City voted on the awards.
“With Kevin Gray’s passing, Kansas City lost a great champion for its amateur and professional sports programs,” Sporting Kansas City Chief Operating Officer Greg Cotton said. “Kevin was a fierce advocate for the sport of soccer at all levels, and this important award could not have been more appropriately named.”
The elder Besler has led Sporting Kansas City in minutes played through 20 games this season. Last week he competed in the MLS All-Star Game against Manchester United after winning the AT&T Text Voting competition.
Matt played at Notre Dame from 2005-08 and earned first team All-America honors during his senior campaign. He was a three-time all-BIG EAST honoree and was named the 2008 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Besler was selected by Kansas City in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft.
Nick Besler received the Gray Award after setting a school record for goals in a season (27) while leading Blue Valley West High School to the 6A Kansas state title. Nick, who will begin his Notre Dame career this fall, was named an NSCAA High School All-American.
The inaugural Gray Awards ceremony was co-sponsored by Sporting Kansas City and Global Sports International (GSI) and held at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park prior to the start of Sporting Kansas City’s match against Real Salt Lake.
“Kansas City is developing high level soccer players and I thoroughly believe there to be a need to recognize the excellent performances of our area players,” said GSI Sports Manager Huw Williams. “I also believe there to be no better person than Kevin Gray to have the award named after. Kevin was a champion for and a supporter of soccer for over 20 years.”