Darren McCarty to perform at fundraiser for Eastpointe wrestling teams

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 9, 2018

 Retired Detroit Red Wings star Darren McCarty will perform and share stories from his life and career at a fundraiser Saturday, Oct. 20, that will benefit the wrestling programs at Eastpointe Middle School and Eastpointe High School.

Retired Detroit Red Wings star Darren McCarty will perform and share stories from his life and career at a fundraiser Saturday, Oct. 20, that will benefit the wrestling programs at Eastpointe Middle School and Eastpointe High School.

Photo provided by Jason Douglas

EASTPOINTE — Eastpointe Community Schools will be hosting an upcoming fundraiser for its wrestling teams, with a little help from a hockey legend.

Eastpointe Middle School and Eastpointe High School will welcome retired Detroit Red Wings star Darren McCarty to perform a comedy routine and share stories from his life and career.

The event was started due to the deteriorating condition of much of the wrestling teams’ equipment.

“When I took over the wrestling program at Eastpointe Middle School last year, and took over the program at the high school this year, I saw the teams really needed equipment,” said wrestling coach Joseph Bidinger. “Last year, the middle school wrestlers were using equipment 15 years old. They were using headgear with chin straps crumbling apart from dry rot. I had to buy them new equipment out of my own pocket. This year, we didn’t even have uniforms for the whole team. … The district changed names from East Detroit (Public) Schools to Eastpointe (Community) Schools two years ago, so a lot of our equipment still has the old name on it, which it’s obviously not supposed to.”

The fundraiser is designed for audience members ages 18 and older. It will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Eastpointe High School auditorium, 15501 Couzens Ave. in Eastpointe. Tickets cost $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Those buying tickets, or those who wish to donate but not attend, can contact Bidinger by phone at (586) 215-7517, or by email at jbidinger01@yahoo.com.

The fundraiser will provide several crucial pieces of equipment for training and competing.

“It will provide new singlets, new head gear, and hopefully opportunities to go to camp in the summer at Central Michigan University,” said Bidinger. “All that stuff costs money, especially the camps, and we just don’t have it in the budget.”

Bidinger added that keeping kids involved in activities like sports does more than just give them a hobby. It also provides community, teaches important lessons and helps keep them on a proper path to adulthood.

“You have a chance to help kids that want to do something other than sit on the street corner and join gangs,” he said. “There is a gang problem in the area, and I’m trying to keep them in the wrestling room year-round so it’s keeping them off the street. You’ll also be able to go out and have a good time with some other people and see a great comedy show.”

Bidinger and the Eastpointe Community Schools administration were excited to secure McCarty for the event. Besides being an entertainer, the coach said that people will love getting to meet one of their favorite athletes.

“For the fundraiser, we saw that he had posted on Facebook that he does fundraisers after starting a new career as a comedian,” said Bidinger. “We thought that would be a great idea for a fundraiser, instead of doing the typical bowling fundraiser or bottle drive or something.”

McCarty, who was a member of the Detroit Red Wings for 13 seasons, was a favorite player for fans with his tough, in-your-face playing style and his role in helping the team to four Stanley Cup championships. 

“I’m as much a comedian as I am a musician. I’ve been entertaining all my life. This is just a continuation of that, and trying something different,” McCarty said. “I like having that connection with people. … I’m making my way around to connect with people. You came around to see me for 15 years down at the Joe, and now I’m coming to see you.”

McCarty sees himself as an entertainer as much as an athlete and regularly performed with his band Grinder. He said that transitioning into comedy has been different, but he believes it’s a continuation of doing what he loves.

“Three months ago, I started hosting events. When I had my band going, that feels like a trial period to get to here, where I’m up there on my own and telling some different kinds of stories,” McCarty explained. “I’ve been learning how to play this new kind of game. The harder you work at it, the better you get, and I’m enjoying the whole experience.”

McCarty said he likes to perform with people that he is a fan of, and he will be appearing with Jason Douglas and Dustin Cole for the Eastpointe event. Following the performances, there will be dinner and a meet and greet.

“It’s two hours in my world, and my world consists of a lot of things, including some other great comedians,” McCarty said. “I’m going to tell some jokes, go through my life, and then talk about some of those hockey moments. It’s storytelling that’s funny.”

McCarty said he loves being able to serve people in two different but linked ways, saying that entertaining people to help others is a great system.

“I’m all about win-wins. The last two weeks, I’ve been in the (Upper Peninsula), and throughout we did a bunch of shows, and that benefited a lot of worthy causes. I’m looking to help any way I can,” he said. “There’s so many things to do. You can come out for a fun night that helps a good cause; that’s why I call it a win-win.”