Back in June last year, while the Survivor: Winners At War cast were battling it out on the islands of Fiji, I reached out to a selection of former Survivor players to get their thoughts and predictions on the returning castaways. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting those interviews here on Inside Survivor.
Today, we’re talking to Coach Ben Wade, who played with Sophie Clarke back in Survivor: South Pacific. As a Survivor veteran on a tribe of newbies, Coach used his experience to quickly take control of the game, forming an unbreakable alliance that included the 22-year-old Sophie. The pair worked closely together until the end, keeping their allies in check and disposing of any potential threats, including Sophie’s impressive Immunity victory to remove Ozzy at the Final 4. At the Final Tribal Council, the jury called out Sophie for her bad attitude, but she was able to garner enough votes by exposing Coach’s lies and presenting herself as the one controlling things behind the scenes. Ultimately, Sophie beat Coach in a 6-3-0 vote.
Inside Survivor reached out to Coach to get his thoughts on Sophie’s return to Survivor: Winners At War.
Disclaimer: This interview was conducted in June 2019 while Survivor: Winners At War was still filming in Fiji.
1) Hey Coach, thanks for doing this! You formed an alliance with Sophie on Night 1 in South Pacific, what were you drawn to in Sophie?
Sophie was smart as hell, she studied Russian, she seemed solid, someone I could trust.
2) During the season, some players criticized Sophie for being “acerbic,” and at one point, Ozzy even referred to her as a “pretentious, spoiled brat.” I’m interested to hear your take on Sophie’s personality? What was she like around camp day-to-day? How did she interact with others?
Down the home stretch, I defended Sophie mightily and stood up for her. She could be aloof and withdrawn, which I think can happen in social settings with people of very high intelligence. People in her inner circle didn’t feel like that, and I never got the impression she was spoiled. I mean, maybe she was spoiled because the Dragonslayer was paying so much attention to her.
3) It seemed like you had the relationships in the game, and therefore, you decided the direction of the game. But Sophie was your closest ally and is credited for winning because of the way she managed her relationship with you. Why do you think she won? What value did she bring to your relationship?
I bounced every single decision off of Sophie. It was great to have someone so solid. When Albert would start pandering to the jury or start to advocate for Mikaela, Sophie and I would talk and then bring him back into the fold. But I think she won because of a bitter jury. A lot of time has passed, and so I say that myself without any jury… Nobody managed me; I controlled the game from start to finish.
4) What do you think Sophie’s mindset will be coming into this season? Will she try and adapt her game at all? How would you approach season 40 in her position?
Sophie is probably sick of people posting that she shouldn’t have won South Pacific, and she’s smart enough to take the criticism to heart. I imagine she will show up warm and fuzzy and ready to win people over. The one thing about Survivor, though, it reveals your character, for better or worse. So will the real Sophie emerge?
5) You’ve also played with four other winners on this season’s cast – Parvati, Rob, Sandra, and Tyson. You were on a tribe with these four and saw how they all maneuvered the game with and against each other. Do you think the dynamics will be the same this time around? And how will Sophie fit in with that group?
Once a spade always a spade. Those four winners will be targets from the get-go. But Tyson will win people over with his charm, Boston Rob with his challenge skills, and Parvati, well she’s just a badass overall and manages to get ahead of the curve each time. Sophie should go to all of those people and say that she is communicating with the Dragonslayer every morning via telepathy while doing Coach-chi, and she was told to throw herself at the mercy of the great ones.
6) Of those winners that you’ve played with, how would you compare their games, strengths, weaknesses?
Sandra: from zero to hero. From Man of la Mancha to The Last Samurai. Survivor-wise, Sandra has less going for her than the others (fire making, survival skills, challenge beast), and yet she made it all the way to the end twice.
Tyson: challenges, personality, abrasive yet lovable, this is the one to watch.
Parvati: charming, good at challenges, a harmless flirt that you know is playing you, and yet you let the noose slip through your nose and are led around gleefully by it.
7) Who on this season’s cast do you see Sophie gravitating towards? Who do you think would make a good ally for her?
Sophie needs another shield, like myself, who can talk strategy with her. Someone like Tyson or Rob.
8) Who on this cast poses the biggest threat to Sophie? Is there anyone you see her butting heads with?
I think Parvati will have nothing to do with her, as she will see her as a threat and not a friend.
9) What is Sophie’s biggest strength? And her biggest weakness?
Strengths: Smart, good at challenges.
Weaknesses: Becomes withdrawn in the game and can come off as aloof.
10) Before I let you go, what is new in the world of Coach? How has life been since we last saw you on South Pacific?
Life is good. Some people live their life thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. My friend, Coach chooses to live (and refer to himself in the third person when really trying to make a point) straddling the fence so that whenever I look down, the grass is greener.
Thanks again to Coach for taking part. Stay tuned to Inside Survivor for more Playing with Champions interviews.
Survivor: Winners At War premieres February 12, 2020, on CBS.