While Marlins executive David Samson was the first person voted off of this year’s Survivor, Barry University hitting coach Albert Destrade made it to the final episode in the 2011 South Pacific season.
Destrade, the nephew of former Marlins first baseman Orestes Destrade, started out the CBS reality show weighing 201 pounds. Thirty nine days later, when he was one of three finalists, he weighed 166.
“I didn’t understand what starvation was until I was on that show,” said Destrade, a former outfielder for Miami’s Florida Christian High School, and also Lynn University and Tennessee-Martin.
“The first thing people ask me about the show is: ‘Is it real?’ Well, it’s the real deal. People think you sleep in a hotel. But the truth is that you don’t realize what a great invention a roof is until it rains for two days, and you are wet the whole time.”
Destrade, 28, said the contestants were given rations of coconuts.
Unfortunately for him, he hates coconuts.
“There were days where all I ate was a piece of coconut the size of a Dorito,” he said.
Before his experience on the island of Samoa that year, he had never been camping a day in his life and admits he was ill prepared for the physical challenges he faced on Survivor.
But he enjoyed the strategy part, making alliances and using his knowledge of psychology.
After all, before joining the Survivor cast, he had spent time working as a professional dating coach.
He also studied the show itself, watching nine seasons of Survivor tapes in less than a month.
“In everyday life, being honest and a good person is important,” Destrade said, “but not on Survivor.”
Destrade played the game exceptionally well, finishing third — falling just short of the million-dollar payday awarded to the winner, Sophie Clarke.
Instead, he said he came away with $75,000 — before taxes — even though he spent the same amount of time on the island as Clarke.
Destrade said he “looked like a homeless person” — skinny with a long beard — toward the end of the show, and he was disappointed that he didn’t emerge victorious.
“I didn’t do my best on the final Tribal Council, when we get to plead our case,” Destrade said. “But, still, the day I woke up and I realized I had made it all the way to the end; I felt pretty accomplished.
“When I first got back to Miami, if you would have asked me if I would do it all over again, I would have said ‘no.’ But, now, I would say ‘yes,’ because I’m an ultra-competitive person, and I liked playing a million-dollar strategy game.”