Im Not Delusional RealityNewsOnlines Exclusive Interview with Survivor: Tocantins Coach
by David Bloomberg -- 05/15/2009
Coach was a man with great entertainment value for viewers. But that was certainly not his goal going in. He wanted to be strong, loyal, and honest. Now that hes been on TV, how does he reconcile what viewers saw with what he said? Does he change his tune on anything he said or did over the course of the show? Read on to see what Coach has to say now!
As I prepared for my interview with Coach, I expected him to be fiery and perhaps a bit defensive. I knew the questions I would be asking would challenge his moral views and his honesty. But what I found in talking to him was a very calm, almost contrite at times, Coach that we rarely saw on TV while watching Survivor.
RealityNewsOnline: Hello, Coach, and thanks for taking the time to talk to us here at RealityNewsOnline.
Coach: My pleasure.
RNO: There are questions that my readers have been begging me to ask you for weeks now. So let me start with one of the biggies. You talked about how you wanted to compete against the best. But at almost your first opportunity, you voted out Brendan. When asked about it, you said he went against you. Could you explain how these actions and statements were not contradictory?
Coach: I definitely dont think they were contradictory. After the merge, its kill or be killed. If I hadnt have taken out Brendan, I would have gone home and I wouldnt have had the chance to take the weakest or the strongest to the end.
I didnt want to gloat over beating a weaker opponent. That very first day I told Brendan I wanted to change the game. If he would have jumped on board, he, Tyson, and myself would have been checkmate for the final three. I was disappointed he didnt. I didnt want to cut Brendan, but Tyson had been telling me for days about Brendan and I kept saying I dont want to do this. But as soon as I found out he was gunning for me, it flipped and I needed to take him out first.
RNO: If your plan was truly to take the most deserving and strongest players to the end, can you explain how that could have been a winning strategy?
Coach: Well, again it was a different strategy. As I said, I wanted to change the game. If I won along the way, it would be a bonus. It was almost a winning strategy. If Tyson would not have been eliminated, we would have been one-two. Tyson wanted to play it much differently coming in. When we got in an alliance, he played it differently [than he had originally planned]. Unfortunately, I was his downfall. He was too honest and he told J.T. and Stephen where they would end up. He was a voracious competitor who I deeply respected and admired. Obviously, the game is full of twists and turns. If something different would have happened, I think I got pretty close to fulfilling what I wanted to do.
RNO: You claimed to have never lied and to value honesty above all else. But we saw the situation with Sierra and we saw you tell quite a different story. Similarly, we saw you lie to Brendan about who was going to be voted out when Brendan was actually the target. How do you reconcile that, especially now that youve seen everything on TV?
Coach: With Sierra, what you see is final product. She did come up to me two days before. In a moment of complete lucidity and brilliance, she laid out the rest of the game: Theyre going to pick us off. She did come up to me.
When I spoke in Tribal about my honesty, that was what I was remembering. I was very disappointed in myself. She was referring to the conversation that day. At the time, I did not think I lied. Watching the show, I think it was a gray area, and I wanted to avoid gray areas.
When it was Brendans turn to go out, I asked him, What do you want to do? He told me and I responded, I want to go with the numbers. I had the numbers, so it was not a lie. So I think Im justified in saying I did not lie.
I wish I would have handled the Sierra situation better. I was not lying to stay in the game. I was still trying to be true to my alliance. I never went back on who I was going to vote off or vote for. I stayed true to my word and Im one of the few people who can say that.
RNO: How did it feel to watch episodes over the past few weeks, including last nights, and see that you were being taken for a ride while fully believing in your allies?
Coach: Overall its been a roller coaster. Its been great and very tough. Im human and Ive been raked over the coals. Its to make a brilliant character [for the show], which maybe I am and maybe Im not. Its been very tough to watch people you put your trust in. Were relying on each other to survive. You build trust and you have to break that trust. It makes me sick to my stomach to watch that.
It was just so close to mapping out the rest of the game and solidify that change to the game and the culture of the game. I think I was successful, but it could have been even better. It ripped my guts out when Debbie turned against me. Last night, the whole episode was overwhelming for me. I wasnt surprised that Stephen turned against me.
But just watching my body, it was very sad and very heroic. Im not trying to toot my own horn, I just didnt realize what shape my body was in. I never thought I was stronger than Brendan or faster than Tyson or smarter than Erinn. I thought I was one step back and knowing people would expect a lot from me. All I have left in this shell of a body is my mental focus. Getting myself psyched up for the game was what my strategy was all along.
RNO: Having watched yourself on TV, have you come to any realizations or conclusions about your own personality?
Coach: Im not delusional. Ive done everything I claimed to have done. It has tested who I am. It has been some wonderfully high times and some low times. I am who I am but I probably learned that nobody can take away that identify that I have, whether Im a coach or Im not or Im fired. I had my career taken away from me, my reputation tarnished, I financially took a blow. I really came there a month ago and took a hard look. I have my character thats been forged through trials and near death experiences and my identity in Christ. Im a born again Christian. Neither of those can be taken from me. I just remember who I am.
The second thing is that I feel Ive been blessed a lot of the time in life. I have that fine line between confidence and what people see as arrogance. It was actually humbling. I dont want to be perceived as arrogant. Being a coach and a conductor, you can never be wrong in the moment, you have to put on this personality that says you know whats right and this is the direction you have to go. That is the tack I took on Survivor.
RNO: Since you mentioned your religious beliefs, Ive been wondering: does the Hebrew tattoo on your left arm say?
Coach: I have two different ones. The first is Psalm 23:4. I had that tattooed when I had the growth on the back of my head. That one says, Yeah though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. The other is Genesis 49, the prophecy of the tribe of Benjamin. It says, Benjamin is a ravenous wolf. In the morning he devours his prey. In the evening he divides his plunder. I love that verse because it speaks of my character in life. I can be ravenous but I want to be generous.
They didnt show this, but every single challenge, I was the one encouraging people. I spent one on one time with people, trying to make sure they were okay and share in that victory we were having every day. I tried to seize that moment and share in my experiences. I knew it would be very easy for me to go into the game and say I just work with soccer players and teach music, but I said Im a big time kayakker, I have a world record, this and that. I told everybody who I was and what Id done. It could have backfired but didnt. Maybe it did because people thought I was crazy or delusional. But I played as strong and with as much integrity as I could the whole way through.
RNO: Why is it that none of your various stories or exploits appear in print or on the web anywhere except from you, yourself?
Coach: That might change. Thats all Im going to say about that. I think you can find them on the web if you want to. When I actually broke the record in Honduras. Im not going to go into all that. I didnt set out to take these trips for world records or other people. I took the first trip to get closer to God. The media wanted to sensationalize it and came up with the world record. The Guinness book says the longest solo kayak trip is 326.98miles I could do that in three days. Im working on that.
I didnt set out that way. I set out to do things that would put me closer to God. I really got burned out that first trip because the media distracted me from my true intention. I started getting consumed by the media. I had to be humbled many times by God and reminded as to what my purpose was.
When I came back, I experienced the same thing as Tom Hanks in Castaway and didnt feel like I was part of society. Everybody wanted to hear my story but they couldnt relate. They werent there when I truly needed them. I thought, You know what, I didnt do it for you guys, and I became very introverted. I didnt make friends and was very closed off and continued to take those trips. I could have documented it and made a bigger deal, but that wasnt my intention.
RNO: There are so many more questions I and readers would like to ask you, but Ive been told we only have time for one more. So Ill open the floor for you: Is there anything else youd like to tell us about your time on Survivor?
Coach: I think my exit interview said it best, I left the game with my head held high. I hope I had a small impact on people watching. Ive spoken all over the world for the last 13 years and never asked for a dime. I want people to see me and think, I want to be a better person because of him and a more honest person. (Quiet laugh.) Im not sure thats going to come out. I love changing people lives. So I hope in some small way besides entertainment value, they can look at my true purpose and core values and my loyalty. In this game, you cannot question my loyalty.
RNO: Thanks again, Coach!
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com