Concert to benefit former coach

February 27, 2009 4:30:17 PM PST
A former wrestling coach from Maine West high school in Des Plaines is seeing what a tremendous impact he had on his students more than 30 years later. They've organized a benefit concert with major star power to help in his time of need.

Reba McEntire is coming to the Sears Centre but this is no ordinary concert. It is a benefit, organized by the former students of Maine West High School wrestling coach Richard Carlini.

When the former varsity wrestlers heard the coach became partially paralyzed from a stroke of the spine, they jumped into action, looking for a way to help pay for growing medical bills.

"The first thing I did, I came to the arena and asked about the costs and they've been approached by guys like me a million times and I'm sure they didn't think I'd come back, but I put together some costs and the next thing was to get an act," said Bryan Real, former Maine West wrestler.

After dozens of phone calls, a producer in Oklahoma contacted Reba McEntire, who was touched by the students' story, and agreed to perform, waiving many of her fees.

When the arena is set up for a concert, they're talking about filling 10,000 seats, a pretty lofty undertaking for a new foundation with no promotional experience.

The former students, couldn't do enough for their coach, their mentor.

"This man taught us lessons about life; every day before practice, there would be a 15 minute topic he would pick for the day that would be related to hard work and doing the right thing," said Phil Lambrechts, former Maine West wrestler.

Erv Geisler coached under Carlini, but was also his student in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated.

"That day he sat us all down, talked to us about what was going on, encouraged us, told us not to be concerned, things would work out, and they did," said Geisler, former Maine West wrestler and coach.

"Dick didn't realize he had that kind of impact on his kids, we're both teachers / / we always felt that if you love what you did the kids would know that and see that in your teaching and I guess that's why he was so touched by all of it," said Heide Carlini, Coach Carlini's wife.

The Reba McEntire benefit concert for Coach Carlini is March 21 at the Sears Centre.

For more information on the concert, and the Teachers, Coaches and Students Foundation visit