Survivor’s Coach: Tall Tales or Truth?

In the words of fellow Survivor Erinn, who is this jackass?

Benjamin Wade, who prefers to be called Coach or more recently The Dragon Slayer, joins the list of some of the oddest people ever to play the game of Survivor, ranking right up there with liar Johnny Fairplay, nudist/tax evader Richard Hatch and lovable pirate Rupert Boneham.

Fairplay became one of the most hated players in the history of the show after setting up his fellow players by making them believe his beloved grandmother had died while he was on the show. Grandma, of course, was alive and kickin’. While we might forgive a little fudging when it comes to playing the game, there’s a limit to our tolerance for fabricators.

With his samurai hair style, tribal tats and self-aggrandizing stories, Coach has become the celebrity du jour of the water cooler set. He says he is the only person in America to have been taught some obscure Chinese martial arts, but it just looks like your basic Tai chi to me.

CBS even devoted a “Best of Coach” Web page on some of the man’s more outrageous antics.

But is this guy for real? Well, some of his claims check out, others don’t. He is a conductor for the Susanville Symphony and was a coach for the girl’s soccer team at the tiny Southwest Baptist University in Missouri, but is he the direct descendant of Pocahontas? Here’s the Top-Five Coach stories, including the most outrageous about overcoming a deadly pygmy attack during a kayaking trip down the Amazon. Feel free to add your own.

5. On a Web site devoted to Coach and his indie film producer brother Pete, they tell the story of the time Coach met Tom Hanks at a party and told him all about his kayaking exploits. Those exploits were incorporated into Hank’s 2000 film Cast Away. Allegedly. Maybe. No word from Hanks about that. But we do know that Cast Away fed into the development of Lost, so maybe Coach is also responsible for the hit ABC series. And we expect to hear soon about how he created the Internet.

4. Coach asks Erinn to put a black raven’s feather in his hair to honor his indigenous peoples heritage.”Very proud of that part of the family,” he confides in Erinn before telling her that when he was a surfer, his hair was blond so he didn’t “look like an Indian so much.” A bio on the aforementioned Web site claims Coach is a direct descendent of Pocahontas. We’re still researching that one. But we do know that his maternal grandfather founded a successful SoCal company called California Jig Grinding, which probably gave him the financial wherewithal to do some traveling.

3. Coach claims he set the world record (6,000 plus miles) for kayaking when he took his trip that included the famous Amazon adventure. Jeff Moag, editor of Canoe & Kayak magazine says “I can’t confirm whehter he paddled 6,000 miles solo or even if there are small cannibalistic people in Peru, although I doubt it. I can tell you that Paul Caffyn kayaked more than 9,000 miles in 1980 and 1981. So, no record.”

2. Coach gets his moniker from coaching soccer and most recently was the head socer coach for Southwest Baptist University. That was before Mr. Honesty lead the team to believe that he needed to leave them during their season for cancer tests. Coach had earlier been treated for a brain tumor. He says they jumped to the conclusion that was why he was leaving, because he couldn’t tell them it was to go film Survivor. The university was not happy when they discovered the truth, and booted Coach.

1. “Three people in the world know this story,” Coach says as the tribe gathers around the campfire. A military helicopter drops him off near the Peruvian border. Now, we’d believe he could contract someone to do this. It’s done all the time. But the military? Even with his claim of being able to pull some strings, it’s hard to imagine or swallow that your tax dollars go towards dropping Coach off for a fun trip down the Amazon. Was it karma that lead him to be snatched by pygmies, who beat him until he miraculously escaped their clutches? “It’s hard to explain the feeling of being stalked by another human being,” he says. Or the feeling of swallowing another Coach story.

1 Comment »

  1. Jan said,

    May 13, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Wow, brain tumor would explain it I guess. Coach is actually painful to watch. By the way…. I am so glad to have found you, Susan. The Argus has never been the same, I don’t even care if I read or don’t anymore.

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