Raiders Night

( 13 )


What's it mean to think team? It means you don't talk team business with anybody who isn't on the team. It means whatever happens inside the team stays inside. It means you can only trust a brother Raider. Any questions?

At Nearmont High School, football stars are treated like royalty, and Matt Rydek has just ascended to the throne. He's got it all: hot girls, chill friends, plenty of juice to make him strong, and a winning team poised to go all the way. If he can keep his eye ...

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Raiders Night

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What's it mean to think team? It means you don't talk team business with anybody who isn't on the team. It means whatever happens inside the team stays inside. It means you can only trust a brother Raider. Any questions?

At Nearmont High School, football stars are treated like royalty, and Matt Rydek has just ascended to the throne. He's got it all: hot girls, chill friends, plenty of juice to make him strong, and a winning team poised to go all the way. If he can keep his eye on the ball now, his future will be set. But when the team turns on one of its own, should Matt play by Raiders rules, or should he go long alone?

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Almost all his classmates at Nearmont High envy senior Matt Rydek. It is easy to see why: He is the co-captain of the Raiders football team, on track for a winning season and a scholarship to a Division I college. For Matt, the field of glory is more intense and bumpy than what it seems from the outside, but he never imagines that he will soon be forced to make a decision that affects his entire season — indeed, his entire future. An arresting novel about steroids and peer pressure from the award-winning author of The Contender.
Publishers Weekly
Lipsyte's (The Contender) latest sports drama is a riveting and chilling look inside contemporary high school football, starring captain and wide receiver Matt Rydek. Matt's intense focus on winning a scholarship is driven in equal measure by his love of the game and his desire to escape from his maniacal father. As the novel opens, the local gym owner injects a syringe of "all-pro cocktail" into Matt's buttocks. Steroids use, however, is not the most frightening aspect of the book. The real action begins during the last week of football camp, before the start of the season. Nearmont High's coaches are excited by the arrival of Chris Marin, a talented sophomore transfer student. Less thrilled is Matt's co-captain, Ramp, a brutish homophobe, whose starting position Chris could win. On the last night of camp, the traditional hazing turns into a sexual assault, which all the seniors witness. The adults, fearing scandal, hear rumors but adopt a "don't ask, don't tell" policy, mirroring their stance on steroid use. As co-captain, Matt knows he would risk everything his friends, his senior season, his future if he goes to authorities. Lipsyte exposes the underbelly of high school sports where racism, drug use, misogyny and bullying are shrugged off so long as the team wins. Matt has a soul-crushing choice to make and Lipsyte's careful rendering of the world in which Matt moves gives his story an awful and terrifying ring of truth. Ages 14-up. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Former sports journalist and YA author Lipsyte tackles the dangers of hazing and steroids in this raw and thought-provoking tale of a high school football star faced with some tough choices. The Raiders have a shot at the state title, and Matt, co-captain of the team, is expected to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. That includes shots of "juice" to make him stronger, but does it include overlooking what happens at football camp, when Chris, a new teammate, is raped with a bat by Matt's out-of-control co-captain? Everyone, even Matt's tough-guy father, wants the incident to be swept under the rug. Then Chris shows up in the locker room with a gun, revenge on his mind. The sports action here is as convincing as the off-field action, which includes Matt's home life with a developmentally disabled brother he protects from his bullying father, lots of partying, a shallow, nasty ex-girlfriend, and an understanding new girlfriend. (The vocabulary is equally realistic; if this were a movie, it would be R-rated.) In an afterword, Lipsyte briefly refers to the values, good and bad, of jock culture and its "dark corners" as well, and provides websites for himself and a sports psychiatrist if readers want to share their own experiences. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 2006, HarperCollins, 240p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
Raiders Rule! Raiders Rule! Raiders Rule! Chanted at team meetings and growled by players to motivate hesitant teammates, these catchwords pressure an entire community to come in line with the team mindset. Star receiver Matt Rydek embraces the madness, selfishly planning to parley his talent to a Division I scholarship. Veteran author Lipsyte knows sports and his book's football scenes are spot on. More important, a believable tone describing the reckless macho behavior penetrating high school athletics weaves throughout the novel. Players juicing their bodies with steroids, partying hard with drugs and alcohol, and hazing underclassmen are things brushed off because boys will be boys. What is good for the team is good for everyone, and adults simply accept the dangerous conduct as a trade-off for wins. Chris, a sophomore transfer and gifted player, becomes a threat to the team's inner ring leadership, and Raiders Night-an initiation for newcomers-spins out of control. Seniors justify the abuse-involving definite homosexual undertones-as Raider Pride. As a result, Matt becomes emotionally torn between the decision to rat out his teammates or maintain the status quo. The novel's flaws are minor. Adult characters are mostly one-dimensional and several pop in but disappear, and readers never get to know them. Graphic descriptions of steroid use tantalize readers, but they fall off the pages when the main conflict kicks in. In the past year, several realistic sports books have made a splash in the young adult market, and this one continues a developing trend. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, HarperCollins, 240p., and PLB Ages 12 to 18.
—Rollie Welch
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-The Nearmont High School football team and the adults who support it see winning as the ultimate goal, even if it means resorting to illegal steroids. The players are the toast of the town, enjoying wild parties, drugs and alcohol, and girls who offer casual sex. Matt Rydek, one of the team's popular stars and a cocaptain, is torn between two girls and deals with a pushy father who lives vicariously through him. During preseason camp, the obnoxious and angry cocaptain, Ramp, assaults Chris, a new sophomore player and the object of his jealousy, and violates him with a baseball bat. The stunned upperclassmen, including Matt, don't tell anyone what they have witnessed, and although the coaches eventually learn the facts, they attempt to keep them quiet and pacify Chris to prevent a scandal. When Chris finally confronts Ramp with a gun, Matt must make some serious decisions about revealing the truth. Realistically gritty language peppers on-the-mark dialogue in this disturbing tale of bullying and competitive fury taken too far. Matt is a strong character believably confused by the mixed messages he gets from those around him, including his father. The alarmingly clear depiction of athletes trying to conceal hideous violence is reminiscent of that in Erika Tamar's Fair Game (1993) and Nancy Garden's Endgame (2006, both Harcourt). Lipsyte has added to his repertoire a remarkable, tough, important story exposing various negative elements that are far too common in today's world of sports.-Diane P. Tuccillo, City of Mesa Library, AZ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
When a hazing event at team camp leads to sexual abuse against a fellow player, co-captain and star running back Matt Rydek is caught in the middle. What do you do when doing the right thing would wreck the football program, get people arrested and cost him a Division One scholarship? In a sports novel that packs a wallop, Lipsyte takes readers into the dark corners of the locker room and Jock Culture and doesn't let them look away. It's a sordid tale of steroids and painkillers, racism and homophobia, bullies, and misguided businessmen and fathers. It's a world where team overrides conscience, until Matt comes to know what he must do to set things right, even if it means losing everything he thought he had. An important work for the high-school athlete and anyone concerned about what sports might be doing to today's kids. (acknowledgments) (Fiction. 14+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060599485
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/3/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 479,287
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.12 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Lipsyte

Robert Lipsyte was an award-winning sportswriter for the New York Times and the Emmy-winning host of the nightly public affairs show The Eleventh Hour. He is the author of twelve acclaimed novels for young adults and is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring his lifetime contribution in that genre. He lives in Manhattan and on Shelter Island, New York, with his wife, Lois, and his dog, Milo.

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Read an Excerpt

Raiders Night EPB

Chapter One

The Back Pack hit the gym in the early afternoon, Matt in the lead, before the yuppies marched in from work, while the young moms were rushing out to pick up their kids from day camp. Matt liked the way their hot eyes roamed over him, wondered if they knew he was still in high school, wondered if they cared. He felt big and hard. Excited. Was it the moms or what was waiting for him upstairs, the iron weights that would make him even bigger, harder. And the juice.

Brody poked him from behind with the football he always carried. "Check the headlights on the one in blue."

"Someday I'm gonna stick that ball up your ass."

"Ooooh, don't tease me, big boy."

Matt led them through the downstairs crowd of designer spandex and pastel sweats, cuties perched on shiny machines jiggling away to love songs as they pretended to work out. What did they know about working out? He liked the sense of leaving their soft world behind as he led the Back Pack up the metal steps into the stink and clang of the second floor, the real workout room.

He was glad they had beaten the linemen to the gym today. Give us a chance to get our session going without Ramp's crap.

The ironheads were there; they were always there, older white guys screaming each other into one more pec-busting rep. They wore tank tops and bandannas that looked like they were soaked in diesel fuel. One of them called out a singsong, half-mocking "Rai-derz."

Tyrell raised two fists. "Raiders rule, niggaz!"

The ironheads liked that and banged metal plates. Some of them had gone to Nearmont High and played ball.

"Matt?" The gym owner, Monty, came out of his office and beckoned him over. "New shipment's in."

Matt nodded and felt the excitement rise. Perfect timing. Load up just before camp so the juice kicks in during the two-a-days when we really need it. He flashed the Back Pack a thumbs-up. Hope they all brought their wallets.

They dressed quickly. They were jittery, psyched for the last heavy workout before camp. Tyrell, as usual, complained about the music on the upstairs speakers, a pounding mix of disco and heavy metal. The ironheads controlled those CDs. For now. See what happens if we win Conference this year.

Matt caught Pete sneaking peeks at himself in the mirror. Pete was more self-conscious than the rest of them about the pimples on his shoulders. Backne they called it. From the steroids. Price you pay. Pete's girlfriend, Lisa, wasn't so sure it was worth the price. She'd said as much, and Pete listened to her. Girls hear about the side effects, but how could they know the feeling of watching a muscle grow bigger and harder? Pete flexed his biceps when he thought no one was looking, as if to remind himself that Lisa didn't know everything.

Matt said, "Quads and glutes win games." He wondered if he was taking this captain thing too seriously.

"Tyrell says bicep curls win hot girls," said Tyrell. He mimicked Pete's flex.

Pete, embarrassed, snapped his shirt at Tyrell, who laughed and danced just out of range. They loved to watch Tyrell move. He had radar. He glided like a phantom. He was the best running back in the conference. If we stay healthy and tight, Matt thought, this could be our season. Maybe State. Senior year, what a way to go.

Out on the mats, stretching, Matt could tell Brody's mind was heading to the same place.

"We got a shot." Brody's big freckly face had that dreamy look. Probably imagining himself winning the state title. With a quarterback sneak. Not a forty-yard bomb to me or a handoff to Tyrell, but a heroic scramble out of a collapsing pocket and a desperate lunge over the goal line. Behind his back, some of the guys called him All-Brody. Dad thought he didn't throw to Matt enough. But Brody was all right. Best friend on the team.

"One day at a time," said Matt.

"You're, like, channeling Coach Mac," said Brody.

"You ready to put the bar where your mouth is?" Matt held up the clipboard with their workout schedule.

"See what I mean?"

They started with squats, lunges, and power cleans to build up their legs and lower backs for the explosive starts off the line of scrimmage. These were the most intense exercises in the daily program the coaches had laid out in the spring. Matt had come to realize that if they left those exercises to the end of the session, they would slack off, especially Pete and Brody. They preferred to work harder on the lat pull downs, the curls and flys to build up their upper bodies for the beach. But they listened to Matt. He was their leader. Tyrell had named them the Back Pack, the four starting backfield seniors. Brody, Pete, and Matt had played together since PeeWee. Tyrell had joined them as a sophomore after he came out from New York, staying at his aunt's house during the week so he could go to Nearmont High.

The linemen stomped in, Ramp bellowing, "Yo, Rydek, your girls done yet?"

Before Matt could respond, Tyrell shouted, "Where you been? Stop off for lunch at the hog farm?"

Ramp cursed, raised a finger, and led the linemen into the locker room.

Matt waited until they were out of earshot. "Chill."

"Nobody cool says chill no more."

"Our last season, last chance to win Conference." He glared at Tyrell until he nodded and started pulling dumbbells off the rack. "Let's be a team."

"You always right, Cap'n Matt, sir."

Matt and Brody moved to the benches. It took a few reps to clear his head, but once Matt felt the blood pumping again, all the good feelings came back. He concentrated on visualizing his muscles swell and harden as he lay on the. . .

Raiders Night EPB. Copyright © by Robert Lipsyte. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Intense Read!

    Lipsyte takes a very serious subject and creates a dramatic story that will stay with you for a long time. The characters struggle to find themselves in a HS setting surrounded by peer pressure, friendship, and the power of choices. Athletes, especially, will relate to the character struggles, but anyone could take something away from this story. Raiders Night is an important book to contemplate while trying to decide if you have the courage to do the right thing no matter the cost to yourself, your friends, and your team.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2014



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  • Posted October 9, 2012

    Great book

    Lipsyte did a great job on this book and its a great read. Athletes can easily relate to this book. The author did well with the conflicts and that is what can keep you so tied in with this book. You can definitely tell that a good lesson you learn from the book is making good decisions in high pressure situations.

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  • Posted October 3, 2012

    Great read

    This book was a very well written book and this book caught my attention when I heard it was about a kid in high school that is on a football team and he starts doing some illegal stuff. The reason this is interesting because it kinda tells u what happens in some high schools.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012


    He should write anioter book to this i want to find out wat hapens to the kid who shoots himse this is so left as a clif hanger

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  • Posted September 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    Raiders Night
    The book Raiders Night is an intense, thrilling novel that grabs the reader's attention and keeps it. Matt the main character is faced with life changing decisions that only he can make. He must choose between his dad's dream or his dream. This is getting to him and he is not sure which one he needs to choose. This is a life changing decision that he's scare to make because of what his dad might do to him. Only Matt can make this decision what will he choose?

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  • Posted November 9, 2010

    Very pointless and nothing like high school!!!

    This book is very dumb and had no point whatsoever for it. I advise no one to read this really dumb book. It has nasty parts in it like shoving a bat up this guys butt and then the kid ending up killing himself. No one under the age of 100 should read this unless u are messed up in the head and have a sick mind a.k.a. domesticated. Do not read this dumb book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    If you like any type of sports, this is the book for you!

    Raiders Night, by Robert Lipsyte tells the story of an athletic teenage boy. He accurately describes the very difficult issues from steroid usage to relationship issues that face every teenage boy in this day and age. The main character, Matt Rydek, is the captain of the Nearmont Raiders and also a member of the "Back Pack" which is a group of football players who work out together and also shoot steroids together. Matt has a chance to play at the next level and his dad will not let him jeopardize that, which leads Matt to question who exactly is he playing for? His Raiders are the complete center of attention in Nearmont with the thought of a state championship and nothing can slow them down, not even a suicide attempt.
    This novel was an extremely easy read in which I was able to read in a very short amount of time. This book would be very interesting for a teenage guy since he would be able to connect more with the text than a girl possibly could. Another thing I liked about this book is how the author didn't leave anything out or try to butter things up. The author told his audience exactly what issues teenagers face and what methods they use to either push through these problems or cope with them in the use of drugs or alcohol. One thing that completely frustrated me was the ending to this book. The plot steadily became more and more interesting and all of a sudden the book is over. I think this book could have gone for 50-60 more pages to completely solve all the problems in this book, but instead the book just suddenly came to a screeching stop.

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  • Posted January 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    raiders night

    This is an ok book. Its not very exciting and even sometimes i got confused what is was talking about. There are a lot of cursing in it so not recomended for younger children. I would rate it a 2.5 out of 5

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    Posted August 14, 2011

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