By John Tozzi
“It's like coming home,” said the Rego Park-born journalist-turned-novelist, who talked to about 11 classes in the school's library, including the football team and aspiring reporters in a journalism class.Lipsyte thinks high school football is about to blow up into a commercial money-maker, and through his book he wants to spotlight the pressures it puts on kids – to risk injury for winning, to use steroids to bulk up – and the parents and coaches he says are complicit.”Raiders Night,” published last summer, has not caused the stir in Queens that it has in some heartland districts. He said the Bayside players he spoke to thought the culture of violent hazing depicted in his book did not represent the football program they knew. But the sense of distrusting adults rang true with them, he said.”They really responded well,” Lipsyte said. “They dealt with it, they understood it, how it could have happened.”A graduate of Stephen A. Halsey junior high in Rego Park and Forest Hills High School, Lipsyte also regaled Bayside's journalism students with stories of his career. The author of more than 20 books, including young adult novels, sports reporting and other non-fiction efforts, Lipsyte said his reporting has always been the fuel for his fiction.He spent his early days as a copy boy at The New York Times before joining the sports desk, covering the first Mets spring training in 1962. Lipsyte was also sent to Miami to cover a little known boxer named Cassius Clay, who fought heavyweight champ Sonny Liston. When Clay, the future Muhammad Ali, won the title in a huge upset, Lipsyte won the boxing beat.For June Schwarz, the Bayside librarian who arranged the lecture, having students connect the words on the page to the author is invaluable.”It's an important lesson to understand the writing process and gives them insight into possible career choices,” she said.The students seemed to think it was important, too, because they gave Lipsyte the highest respect a high school class can give: they didn't move when the bell rang.Reach reporter John Tozzi by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 174.