No Friday Night Lights

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No Friday Night Lights

Reservation Football on the Edge of America

John M. Glionna
Foreword by Glenn Stout
Introduction by Ron Kantowski

282 pages
29 photographs

Paperback

June 2024

978-1-4962-3149-9

$26.95 Pre-order

About the Book

No Friday Night Lights is the story of a rural Nevada high school football team that never wins. Veteran reporter John M. Glionna examines the 2022 season in which the McDermitt Bulldogs practiced for weeks in the summer only to learn once again that they had come up short of the necessary players due to the dwindling population on the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation on the Nevada-Oregon border.

Eight-man football helps give the coaches and kids a sense of community—despite a lack of wins, and despite their home’s status as one of the most remote locations for a public school in the West. Glionna’s relationships with coaches, players, parents—and even those McDermitt residents remotely connected to high school football—provide telling insights into local lives, many of them from the Paiute and Shoshone tribes of Fort McDermitt. Although victory and recognition elude the players, Glionna illuminates their hard work and dedication—leaving the reader with glimpses of life on the ground in “flyover” country.

Author Bio

John M. Glionna is an award-winning journalist who has traveled the world as a newspaper and magazine writer. After twenty-six years at the Los Angeles Times he now works as a freelance writer. He is the author of Outback Nevada: Real Stories from the Silver State. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, and Outside and has been included in Best American Sports Writing and Best Los Angeles Times Foreign Reporting.
 

Praise

“In his nuanced, deeply reported, and beautifully written book, John Glionna takes us to a tiny town with a rugged past, uneasy present, and uncertain future. Still, the indomitable residents and their high school’s struggling eight-man football team carry on. Glionna reminds us why such towns and teams matter.”—Steve Padilla, editor with the Los Angeles Times

“With a lysergic flair for heart-of-America storytelling, John M. Glionna takes us deep into a football country where few boys are left with what they need to bring a much-needed win to a town on the other side of glory days. Get in the truck and let Glionna take the wheel. You’re in good hands for a periscope view into a contemporary slice of the American West you’ve never before seen.”—Ed Komenda, reporter for the Associated Press

“Veteran reporter John Glionna tells the story of McDermitt, Nevada, population 114, a dying former mining town steeped in poverty where the fielding of an eight-man high school football team is a Sisyphean task that underscores how, even in the face of crushing defeat, sport offers hope by building character. For the McDermitt Bulldogs, winning isn’t the goal—simply being able to play the game is.”—Mike Anton, former reporter for the Kansas City Star and Los Angeles Times

“Ever a friend of the underdog, John M. Glionna travels the secluded backroads of Nevada to chronicle the travails of a hardscrabble reservation football team. Along the way we encounter all manner of characters, from the young high school athletes and their fans to a supportive if dwindling community clinging to their routines in an abandoned mining town. The McDermitt Bulldogs rarely win, but the players and the town itself remain resilient champions on the field of life.”—Joe Eckdahl, assistant managing editor of the Los Angeles Times, retired

“In this terrifically poignant, soulful book about a hollowed-out town and its remaining people, John Glionna makes you feel as though you’re walking through lilies in the field, everything blessed and enlivened by his attentiveness, humor, and real affection.”—Robert Basil, professor of communications at Kwantlen Polytechnic University

“While the typical traveler through McDermitt, Nevada, hastens to put this dying, segregated town behind him, John Glionna saw something different, through the lens of the town’s eight-man high school football team, coached by a white and a Native American. Having endured persistent adversity in their personal lives, the coaches fielded teams that, though nearly always scoreless, endured failure with grace and dignity. Glionna’s plainspoken, inspirational study of these young football failures guides the reader into the rich soul of this community.”—David H. Wilson Jr., author of Northern Paiutes of the Malheur: High Desert Reckoning in Oregon Country

“John Glionna is one of our best narrative journalists. This book shows why—about a piece of our country that’s never had it easy, now populated with the Say When casino, mercury mines, Paiutes and whites and their history, and a coach who battles each year to field an eight-man high school football team. Haunting yet peaceful as a ranch at dusk, his story doesn’t find endings made in Hollywood but instead in a real and forgotten American small town that no one, not even its own residents, expects to make it.”—Sam Quinones, author of The Least of Us and Dreamland

“There are few better feelings for a nonfiction bibliophile than to escape life’s requirements and return to a cast of literary characters you were reluctant to leave in the first place. No Friday Night Lights was that book for me. . . . Small town football is this story’s centerpiece, but those tied to it by seemingly the thinnest of threads are as fascinating as the players and coaches. McDermitt may be a speck on the map, but it looms large in this raconteur’s tale.”—Tris Wykes, reporter for the Valley News (West Lebanon, NH)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Glenn Stout
Introduction by Ron Kantowski

1. Chapter One
2. Chapter Two
3. Chapter Three
4. Chapter Four
5. Chapter Five
6. Chapter Six
7. Chapter Seven
8. Chapter Eight
9. Chapter Nine
10. Chapter Ten
11. Chapter Eleven
12. Chapter Twelve
13. Chapter Thirteen
14. Chapter Fourteen
15. Chapter Fifteen
16. Chapter Sixteen
17. Chapter Seventeen
18. Chapter Eighteen
19. Chapter Nineteen
20. Chapter Twenty
21. Chapter Twenty-One
22. Chapter Twenty-Two
23. Chapter Twenty-Three

Acknowledgments
Further Reading

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