May 15, 2009 05:14 PM by Ryan Haidet
Ah, the Dragonslayer — one of the most original Survivor contestants in a long time. Having made it to the final five on Survivor: Tocantins — The Brazilian Highlands, Benjamin “Coach” Wade was eliminated from the competition. And it was too soon. Admit it. Whether you hated or loved him, Coach was extremely entertaining — just as he was during a conference call with reporters. He talked about what it’s like to be disliked by America, his strategy, meditation and quoted all sorts of famous people. But toward the end of the discussion, Coach may have slipped up and revealed one of the final two contestants when he talked about the final Tribal Council. Curious?
Coach has already gone down in Survivor history as being quite a story teller. His extravagant tales of adventure and danger raised plenty of doubt among his fellow castaways and viewers alike. But Coach says he’s not surprised people question the credibility of his stories. “I think that I am a unique individual. And I think if you guys were telling me the stories and I was on the flipside, I think that I would be a little bit incredulous as well about them. I don’t tell those stories to edify myself. I know at the beginning that I came off as a little bit arrogant. That was actually my way of psyching myself up. I knew people like Brendan would be stronger. I knew people like Tyson would be faster. I knew Debbie would have a better social game than me. It was actually my way to kind of psych myself up. I don’t think I’m better than anybody. And if I wouldn’t lie for a million dollars, why would I lie about anything else?”
Arrogance Vs. Confidence
And arrogance is something Coach says isn’t a part of his personality. “I think arrogance is thinking that you’re better than other people and I know for a fact that I’m not better than other people. I don’t really consider myself an athlete — I might look like one. I don’t consider myself smart. I think I have some charisma and I think I have the ability to focus really well and do something that I set my mind to that other people might seem impossible. I would definitely not say that I’m arrogant, but there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance as far as the public perception. I think that this experience on Survivor — even starting with that first video when they ask you to talk about yourself — that humbled me. I think I used it, hopefully, for the betterment of my character. I’m certainly not like that in real life. I think I’m a very down-to-earth person. I think that I’m very sensitive. I love to give back to the community. If I were arrogant, then over the last 13 or 15 years, I wouldn’t have spoken to high schools, and colleges, and rotary clubs, and adventure clubs and middle schools.”
When asked if he felt like a master manipulator during the game, Coach went on a short rant trying to define the different perceptions the word “manipulation” can conjure — Coach at his finest. “‘Mani’ talks about your hands and ‘pulation’ talks about moving. So if you look at moving with your hands and you look at manipulation as a good thing — directing with your hands like I do with the soccer team and with the orchestra — then I guess that you could say that. But manipulation in a negative connotation, I don’t think so. … I don’t think I’m this master manipulator, but if it’s a positive thing, sure I’ll take it.”
In fact, he felt like he wasn’t that strong of a strategist. “I think my gameplay was horrible. I look at myself and I see everything crumbling around me. Yet here I am this noble warrior that is saying, ‘I will be loyal to the people that I said I was gonna be loyal to.’ Meanwhile everything is crumbling around me and I’m too set in my ways to make any changes. I’m comfortable with that. I wouldn’t have played the game any different. But as far as my gameplay, I’m probably one of the most harmless, worst Survivors in history — as far as just the gameplay itself.”
Coach said one of his few strategic moves came when Brendan was eliminated. “I think overall, Tyson was probably the best competitor, but Brendan was an animal. And he was awesome in the challenges. As Duk Koo Kim said one time, he wrote on his lampshade the night before he fought Boom Boom Mancini in the ring — and actually Boom Boom Mancini killed him in the ring. Duk Koo Kim wrote in Korean, ‘Kill or be killed.’ And I think that’s the case with Brendan. I would have been stupid to sit there and have Brendan vote me out because that’s exactly what he was gonna do. And I knew that, and I knew I had to get to him before he came to me. But I did ask him that very first day on the hike, ‘Brendan, let’s change the game together.’ And if he would have been astute enough to go with me, I think that myself and Brendan would have been an unbreakable force.”
Bonds, Loyalties & Fan Reactions
Multiple times throughout the game, Coach said he was playing the game with the most honor possible. “I never betrayed my loyalty to anybody. When I said I was gonna vote for somebody, I always voted for that person. That’s why it exasperated me that night where there was two rogue votes — one for Debbie, one for Stephen. I think I was a man of my word.”
But his apparent honesty didn’t really sink in with viewers because it seems he may be the most despised player this whole season. He says it’s been tough to deal with, but he believes his faith has helped him through it. “Nietzsche once said that the most humane effort that we can have is to spare another man shame. I think that people should probably take that lesson. In the next breath, Nietzsche also says, ‘What does not destroy me makes me stronger.’ It’s been tough. These last three months, I’ve gone through the wringer. … It’s made me a better person, I know who I am inside. To be the most hated, it’s tough. But you got to take it with a grain of salt and you got to move forward.”
Nearly every episode, Coach was seen standing in the water doing all sorts of karate-looking stances. “If you look at the early meditation, it looks OK. The later meditation looks cool, because I’m getting more comfortable with myself out there in the water. I gotta tell ya, it worked. How I felt going into the water was not the same as I felt coming out of the water. I always had a smile on my face, I felt like the burden had been lifted off my shoulders. Part of that meditation was just me asking God on a continual basis, ‘I know that I’m not worthy and that I’m a man and that I’m gonna mess up. Please keep me from lying to my competitors. Please keep me with honesty and integrity.’”
Becoming A Contestant
The man who claims to have achieved all sorts of crazy feats, Coach has a pretty normal story regarding the way he was selected to be a Survivor. “A year ago, my coaching staff came up to me and they said, ‘Coach you are like one-of-a-kind. You need to be on reality TV.’”
So he did a Google search for upcoming casting opportunities when Survivor popped up. “The first one that came up was Survivor. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I was like made to be on this show. Why haven’t I applied for it earlier?’ So I was one of the ones that applied for it. I sent in the three parts of my personality that I think define me. I put in a 30-second clip of me coaching on the soccer field. A 30-second clip of me conducting my symphony. Then, a 30-second thing from when I used to be a professional kayaker.”
Coach Reveals One Of Final Two?
**POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT**
At this point in the interview, Coach was asked about the final Tribal Council. He made a few comments about how he treated the final two — even going as far as mentioning one contestant’s name. If you don’t want to find out who, now is the time to skip the following paragraph.
“I think a lot of people go to that Final Tribal and they have a vendetta. They have an ax to grind. People at Ponderosa are all talking, ‘Make this person feel uncomfortable. Make that person feel uncomfortable.’ They all told me to do that in the jury. And I didn’t. I just looked at them and smiled. Stephen was really bothered, actually, by it. I gave him a smile and looked at him with forgiving eyes as if, ‘Ya know what, don’t worry about it. It’s just a game.’ I didn’t have an agenda. All I wanted to know was who played the game the most honorably, and the most nobly and with the most integrity out of the four that are left.”
Wizard To Take It All
If he could choose the winner right this instant, Coach said he would pick Stephen. “I think that Stephen went from a boy who liked to read adventure novels to man living an adventure without complaining. I think that he’s really had a life-changing experience out there. I think that I mentored him and I hope that comes out in the next episode.”
“The game part was easy. Being down there was easy. Losing close to 60 pounds from the middle of October to the middle of December was tough. But I think the toughest part is actually the aftermath. You don’t realize when you’re going through the show you come back. I told my parents, ‘I was like noble and I was honorable and you guys are going to love it.’ And it was the exact opposite. I think the aftermath is probably the hardest. But it was well worth it. I definitely even learned things about myself that I didn’t know beforehand. And I think overall, it’s made me a more humble person — which with the Dragonslayer, that’s always a good thing.”
Images courtesy of Monty Brinton/CBS.
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RealityTVMagazine.com is off to New York City for exclusive coverage of the live finale. Stay tuned in the days that follow for red-carpet interviews, pictures and more.
Check out our red-carpet coverage from the Survivor: Gabon finale in December:
- Read an exclusive interview with fifth-place finisher Kenny Hoang.
- Read an exclusive interview with fourth-place finisher Matty Whitmore.
- Read an exclusive interview with third-place finisher Jessica “Sugar” Kiper.
- Read an exclusive interview with second-place finisher Susie Smith.