Exclusive: Benjamin "Coach" Wade talks 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'
By Reality TV World staff, 04/09/2010
Although he insisted he wasn't in it by choice, Benjamin "Coach" Wade seemed to have a clear path to Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' merge when he found himself a member of the Villains tribe's dominant five-person alliance.
However that all came undone when Sandra Diaz-Twine managed to convince new self-proclaimed tribal ruler Russell Hantz that Coach was upset Russell had managed to vote former tribal leader Rob "Boston Rob" Mariano out of the game and was planning on coming after him for retribution, resulting in Coach being voted out of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains at the Villains' next Tribal Council.
On Friday, the former Survivor: Tocantins castaway talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains experience -- including whether he really was surprised to be voted off, how a previously undisclosed return of Survivor's purple rock tiebreaker was why he wasn't willing to force a 4-4 tie at the Tribal Council in which Rob was ousted, what the status of his budding romance with fellow Villain Jerri Manthey is now, and how his attempt to get Guinness World Records to certify his oft-mentioned legendary (at least in his own mind) kayak trip is going.
Reality TV World: You really seemed completely surprised to be voted off, you honestly didn't see it coming at all?
Coach: (laughs) Dude, I had no idea. It's like you go out there, you see your team on a downward spiral and do whatever you can to help. You score points in challenges -- a lot of times when our team was getting beat even with Rob and [Tyson Apostol], I was one of the few people scoring points again and again.
And I just had no idea that they would actually do it. I was so surprised. I was pretty bummed out, pretty devastated. I love this game and I really wanted to play this game for as long as I could.
Reality TV World: So given you shook hands with Russell after [Survivor host Jeff Probst] revealed you'd been voted out, were you aware that he wasn't one of the people that voted you out? If not when did you actually find out?
Coach: I knew... I really thought it was going to be -- it's just weird, because I really knew that he had done that because he wanted my jury vote.
And so it was just weird, because when he did that I was like, "He's playing me for the jury, just like [James "JT" Thomas] played me for the jury [in Tocantins]." And I fell for it with JT and I said I'm not going to fall for it again.
However, me shaking his hand was my way of saying I'm leaving this game like a gentleman with my head held high. It's a stark contrast to what Boston Rob did to me the week before. When Jerri voted for him, Boston Rob gives her a hug [and] I fight for him all day and he's like "you're a little man."
At first I thought he was talking to Russell, and I like Boston Rob -- I respect Boston Rob -- but I've always said warriors are honored in defeat and not in victory.
It reminds me of a quote by Jacinto Benavente who said, "You meet the warrior in battle but it's not until victory that you meet the gentleman."
Reality TV World: Yeah but the whole thing with Rob, I spoke to Rob last week and his take basically was that he kind of felt you took the coward's way out by voting for [Courtney Yates] when you knew that not keeping your promise to vote for Russell was still going to send Rob home. Do you understand that's where he was coming from, or do you disagree with that?
Coach: No, I don't disagree but I also don't agree. I mean the pleas of a dying man are irrational. He wanted me to tie the votes up and he wanted me to possibly get voted out myself by drawing a rock. That doesn't make any sense.
Reality TV World: So you knew the tiebreaking was [everyone] drawing a rock and not a tiebreaker between just the people that got the votes?
Coach: I asked maybe 20 times that day. To the producers.
Reality TV World: And what did they tell you?
Coach: That it was going to be rocks! I made sure of that.
I think that Boston Rob would have started a fire over Russell any day. So it was going to be rocks and I wasn't going to be foolish enough to sit there and draw a line in the sand.
But above that, unfortunately it was Boston Rob's ego that got in the way. I begged him and I begged Russell to meet and I said I'd mediate. And I begged them at Tribal Council.
I said, "Keep the tribe strong, we don't need for the two biggest egos in the tribe" -- who'd have thought I wouldn't have the biggest ego in the tribe -- but I said, "We don't need the two biggest egos in the tribe to sit there and war against each other, you've gonna lose."
Reality TV World: Did everyone else know if was also rocks and did they already know at the previous Tribal Council with Tyson? You guys definitely seemed to think there was going to be at least a tiebreaker re-vote...
Coach: Yeah but that's okay, you're talking about apples and oranges. The week before when Tyson screwed himself and voted himself off, that was to flush the idol which is why we were going to tie the votes and then we would re-vote and all of us were going to vote for Russell.
That would have been 6-3 had we gotten to the re-vote. It was a different situation because we wanted to flush the idol out with a tie.
This one here definitely would have been to draw rocks.
Reality TV World: But because there still would have been a re-vote but nobody would have changed?
Coach: I think people would have been stupid enough to sit there and vote how they were going to vote.
I wanted to play with Boston Rob, as I said. It was a shame that he went out that way, but I wanted to play with him, no doubt about that.
Reality TV World: So just getting back to Russell's vote for Courtney for a second, you believe he definitely knew [Danielle DiLorenzo] and [Parvati Shallow] were voting for you and he wasn't blindsided by their votes, he just wanted to try and get your jury vote?
Coach: I think that was a big part of it and I think that were was also a part maybe that he said, "Well, I started a ball in motion, I can't stop it but I know that my vote is going to be harmless."
I guarantee you that if he would have tied the vote then he wouldn't have voted that way.
Reality TV World: I can understand wanting to win the Reward Challenge and eat, but what made you seem to think that bowling requires a lot of athletic ability? Have you ever been to a bowling alley and seen the crowd before?
Coach: I have. Yeah, you got a good point there. (laughs)
In hindsight, let's be armchair quarterback the day after you're voted out. At that point, if you remember the scene a couple of times before that, Jerri sitting there saying she can't go on and I'm saying, "Yeah you can."
Then the whole tribe was like "we need food, we can't go on," and I was sitting there saying you don't need food, people have survived -- the whale ship Essex went 176 days without any food and only water, you can survive without food.
And I just thought it'd be best for us to win to get the momentum back and then go into the next challenge and hopefully win, strengthened. But you know, it wouldn't have mattered who sat out on the challenge, we were losing.
That was evident once Tyson was voted out. He was the glue that held the tribe together from the generation gap from me and Boston Rob to the younger kids and he was also a great competitor.
So when he went home, there was really no stopping the inevitable no matter who we sat out.
Reality TV World: So once Rob got voted out, you [continued talking] about how Russell was a bully and Jerri began saying she regretted the decision and basically everyone seemed to recognize you guys were letting Russell run the game. But although you mentioned the idea voting for him in passing in one of your interviews, no one really seemed to be willing to do anything about it. Did you have any discussions with Sandra, Courtney or maybe even Danielle -- who seemed to also be getting frustrated with Russell -- about taking Russell out?
Coach: I didn't dare talk to Danielle. Courtney and Sandra approached me that day and you know, they were just trying to throw stuff against the wall. And I was like, "You know what, you guys, it might be too little too late."
I knew that they were talking to everybody. They were talking to Russell, and I was kind of at that point I'm in a forced alliance of five and I'm not going to betray them because I've got to ride this out at least until the merge.
Reality TV World: Where are things between Jerri and yourself right now, have you stayed in touch since the show was filmed last summer?
Coach: You know what, we have. I think Jerri's a great girl, I'm looking forward to seeing her at the finale and we both agreed when we were down there that it's probably not the time or place to start a relationship but you know when we got back would, you know, at least go out and see what transcribes. So I'm looking forward to seeing her at the finale.
Reality TV World: I need to ask you about the Night 8 breakdown you had out there. When it was happening, Tyson tried to tell you why some people have issues with you and you seemed really shocked to hear some of the things that he mentioned, which just kind of seemed strange given you had kind of gotten ridiculed for [the same things] a year ago when you were first on Survivor. What was the situation there?
Coach: Wow, I got to tell you man, this is like the best interview of the day! You're asking the best questions. This is kick-ass, we're covering a bunch of stuff.
I'll tell you man, I wanted to talk about that because it wasn't just the breakdown [with] Sandra, it was kind of like me grieving for everything that happened to me the last year.
Losing my job, you know, being made to look like a fool. I lot of my integrity I felt has been taken a shot at online and so it was tough and I was kind of grieving because I thought maybe I'm going to be in that same boat this time. It looks like it's going the same force even though I tried to be more chivalrous, more humble -- less of that polarizing figure [from] the first time around.
So you know when Tyson told and came up to me and said that, it was great because it really solidified that I'm not going to change for anybody. This is who I am, this is who I'm going to be. And thank you Tyson for trying to give me advice but you know what, I need to stay my own course so that's what happened.
And I'm proud that he said that, because I said "I'm not going to change for anybody! Even if people mock me. Even if people make fun of me. I've got to be true to myself and do what I want to do."
For me, Survivor pushes the boundaries of my eccentricities and that's good and that's bad, but I really feel that I can go out there and be not only myself but push the boundaries and push the limits. From the feathers in the hair to Tai Chi to coming up with ancient philosophies.
Reality TV World: On that topic, when I talked to you last year you had said you were going to get your kayak trip certified by Guinness and force all the skeptics like myself to "eat our hats." How's that going for you so far?
Coach: I remember that interview, dude. You know all my stuff is with Guinness and actually some of the publicists with CBS are working on that, to get it verified by the finale. They have all the stuff and they're just right now trying to figure out if a record that was set all that time ago can still be verified.
If it's not verified then, you know, it's not. But they've got all my stuff -- my journals, my maps, the notarized stuff -- and they're in the process of looking at it.
Reality TV World: Okay, I know we're running out of time so my last question then -- you were the season's first jury member, what criteria did you deem important in determining your vote?
Coach: I took it very seriously. For me it's going to be like who's honorable, who's loyal, who has integrity -- if that's anybody. And if it's nobody then the lesser of the evil, so to speak.
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