“I am the dragon slayer.” – Coach

Survivor: Tocantins - The Brazilian HighlandsBenjamin “Coach” Wade is a three-time survivor player, who is as well known for his entertaining antics and over-dramatic storytelling as he is for his strategic gameplay.

Coach first appeared on survivor 18: Tocantins, where he was an over the top personality and the biggest character of the season. He styled himself as the ‘dragon slayer’, and formed the ‘warrior’s alliance’, an alliance of those who Coach deemed to be the strongest players. He was eventually voted out and finished in 5th place.

Coach returned as a villain for survivor 20: Heroes vs Villains. He quickly allied himself with Boston Rob and the majority on his tribe, and formed a close sub alliance with Jerri Manthey. It was this sub alliance that proved to be Coach’s undoing, as Jerri flipped away from Rob’s alliance, and Coach, full of guilt, followed her. It was that guilt that eventually got him voted out, as he could not be trusted by either alliance. He finished in 12th place.

Coach returned for a third time in survivor 23: South Pacific. This time he was one of only two returning players, along with Ozzy Lusth. Early on, Coach formed close alliances, including one that would take him all the way to the end, with Sophie Clarke and Albert DeStrade. Coach was able to lead his tribe, using religion as a unifying force, and finished in 2nd place, behind Sophie.

Coach 1.0 Survivor: Tocantins

“Everybody out here has lied except for me.” – Coach

Coach’s first season of survivor was season 18: Tocantins, where he was placed on the Timbira tribe. Despite Coach’s over the top personality irritating many tribemates, Coach was able to place himself in a strong alliance, with a particularly close friendship with Tyson Apostol, who Coach referred to as his assistant coach.

From the beginning, Coach wanted to play a noble game, rewarding the strong and voting off the weak. This approach won him both friends (Tyson and Debbie Beebe) but also enemies (Sierra Reed and Erinn Lobdell, who he thought were not worthy of their position in the game). Coach was often seen as a bit of a joke by his tribemates, who couldn’t quite believe his stories about kayaking through the amazon, or being kidnapped by a native tribe. Because of this, although he continued to survive tribal council, he was never seen as a genuine threat throughout the game.

Timbira was a physically strong tribe, and only visited tribal council twice before the merge, both times voting out their weakest performer. This meant that Timbira entered the merge with a 6-4 numbers advantage, but the tribe was so fractured that their advantage did not last. Coach in particular, had fixated himself on defeating Brendan Synnott, who he had nicknamed as ‘the dragon’. When the merge came, Coach was happy to ally with the opposing tribe, particularly JT, who he nicknamed ‘the warrior’ and Stephen, who he nicknamed ‘the wizard’ and formed a new alliance, known as the warrior alliance. The warrior alliance successfully voted out Brendan, but fell apart at the very next tribal council, when Coach was surprised to see his closest ally Tyson voted out for being too much of a threat.

Although Coach re-joined his alliance, and they voted together to oust Sierra at the next tribal council, it was clear that JT and Stephen were holding the true power. Coach’s lack of self-awareness was his downfall, as he believed JT would be loyal to him, only to be blindsided at the final five. On the jury, he respected the gameplay of JT, and voted for him to win.

Coach 2.0 Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

“I did noble things out here. And I look ignoble.” – Coach

Coach returned to Survivor in season 20: Heroes vs Villains, and was placed on the villains tribe. He started off well, defeating Colby Donaldson in a physical challenge, and reconnecting with his old ally, Tyson. He also developed a close friendship and alliance with Jerri Manthey.

Once again, Coach was seen by the other players as entertainment, rather than as a serious game threat. The villains made fun of him constantly, but he was part of a solid majority alliance, led by Boston Rob. At the first tribal council that the villains attended, Sandra said that Coach didn’t work hard around the camp. Coach was devastated, and considered quitting the game, but Tyson was able to talk him into staying.

The next tribal council, the villains wanted to vote for either Parvati Shallow or Russell Hantz. Fearing that an immunity idol would be played, Boston Rob directed his alliance to split their votes between the two. Coach voted for Parvati. Unbeknownst to Rob, Tyson had switched his vote to Parvati at the last moment. When Russell played his immunity idol for Parvati, Tyson was sent home in a 3-2 vote.

The villains lost the next immunity challenge. Without Tyson, Coach did not feel strongly attached to either alliance. His closest friend in the game, Jerri, wanted to vote with Russell to get Boston Rob out of the game. Rob wanted to vote Russell out of the game. Ultimately, Coach voted for Courtney, leading to Rob being voted out 4-3-1. As he left, Rob called Coach ‘a little man’.

After this tribal council, Sandra and Courtney were the only members of Boston Rob’s original alliance. In an attempt to keep them around a little longer, Sandra told Russell that Coach was feeling guilty about Boston Rob being voted out, and wanted to vote against Russell. Russell used that information to get Coach voted out, and he finished in 12th place, the first member of the jury. On the jury, he respected the strong gameplay of Parvati, and voted for her to win.

Coach 3.0 Survivor: South Pacific

“The first time I played this game, I played with arrogance and self-righteousness. And I tried to do something different this game.” – Coach

Survivor 23: South Pacific had two tribes, each led by a returning player. Ozzy led Savaii, and Coach became the leader of Upolu. At first, Coach was not well liked by the tribe, with most of them wishing that Ozzy, with his physical strength and survival skills had been assigned to Upolu. One player, Christine Shields-Markosi, called Coach a ‘temporary player’, as she resented his returning player status. Christine and her alliance partner Stacey Powell called Coach ‘Benjamin’, angering him. The only person who was friendly to Coach was Edna Ma, and Coach would later try and repay her for her kindness.

Despite some members of the tribe being clearly opposed to Coach, he was able to quickly get himself into an alliance, with a five person alliance established on day one. It consisted of Coach, Albert, Sophie, Rick Nelson and Brandon Hantz. Coach’s bond within his alliance were so strong that Coach was the first person to find out that Brandon was a Hantz and was related to Russell. The alliance became very religious, and would regularly pray together. Brandon in particular saw himself as a very religious person, and was on survivor as a way to redeem his family’s name.

Coach’s alliance was able to get rid of Christine and Stacey, the two players most opposed to Coach, in their first two visits to tribal council. However, season 23 included Redemption Island, and Christine proved to be a physical threat. She was able to defeat six opponents, and looked set to re-enter the game.

The first threat to Coach’s alliance was on the third visit to tribal council, where Coach wanted to protect Edna, who he felt a close friendship with. He pushed for Mikayla to be voted out, while Sophie and Albert both wanted Edna out. In the end, Coach won the debate, and Mikayla was voted out. Coach helped to unify the remaining six Upolu members. They prayed together, then went on a search for the ‘hidden’ immunity idol (which Coach had already previously found). When the idol was found, the tribe, especially Brandon, were feeling invincible.

As the merge approached, Ozzy was voted out of Savaii, where he narrowly defeated Christine at Redemption Island. The even nature of the two tribes meant that they merged with six members each. Coach was able to identify that John Cochran was the odd man out at Savaii, and targeted him to flip over to the Upolu side. Coach gave Cochran a nickname (Hercules) and let him wear the famous dragon slayer jacket. In the end, it worked, as Cochran voted with Upolu, giving them the numbers advantage. This allowed Coach and his alliance to vote out the remaining Savaii members (including Cochran, who was saved until last) until only Ozzy was left (at Redemption Island).

Coach stayed true to his original final five alliance, voting Edna out next, but it began to get difficult for him to vote people out while still retaining their good will. All the remaining players trusted Coach to take them to the end, and all had a final three deal with him. To make things worse, Coach also entered into a final three pact with Ozzy, saying that Ozzy was a truly noble warrior who deserved to reach the final.

Rick was voted out next, and left feeling hugely betrayed by Coach. The next vote off was even harder, as Brandon was becoming increasingly unstable. At the loved ones visit, Brandon’s father tried to bully Coach into taking Brandon to the final, and Coach realised that Brandon had to go. When Brandon won immunity, Coach promised him that if he gave his immunity necklace to Albert, then Coach, Albert and Brandon would vote together, and Sophie would be going home. Brandon did give Albert his immunity necklace, but Coach reneged on his promise, and voted for Brandon.

At final four, Ozzy returned from Redemption Island. Although Coach was torn by his previous promise to Ozzy, and truly believed that the stronger players should be the ones that make it to the end, when Sophie won final immunity, Ozzy was voted off unanimously. When polled in the reunion show, the jury indicated that if Ozzy had made the final three he would have easily won.

At the final tribal council, Coach was slammed for using loyalty and religion as a cover to backstab and betray people. He did not own up to his moves, and only received three of nine possible votes, to finish in second place, behind Sophie.

Most viewers were impressed by the evolution of Coach, from goofy character to serious threat to win. He was able to completely change his gameplay, and gain the respect of many in the survivor world. He is however, best remembered and loved as the outlandish character first seen in Tocantins, who although he did not come as close to winning the game, certainly entertained the audience.

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