He knows the drill

Temple's Ryan Wolf graduates today. Next week, he'll walk off with at least $100,000 on 'Boot Camp.'

Courier Times

"It was a nightmare physically and mentally. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I wouldn't."
- Ryan Wolf

(Photo Illustration: Rob Suhay/Courier Times)
For 23-year-old "Boot Camp" finalist Ryan Wolf, of Northeast Philadelphia, graduating from Temple University today with a degree in broadcast journalism is a piece of cake compared to enduring the Fox reality show that concludes Wednesday.

"It was a nightmare physically and mentally. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I wouldn't," said Wolf who is guaranteed $100,000 for making the final two, and, if he wins the final "gauntlet challenge," could take home the grand prize of $500,000. Part I of the final duel aired last night. He's not allowed to disclose the show's outcome.

Wolf and 15 other recruits spent six weeks on a military base competing in physical and mental challenges that included weekly "missions." At the end of each episode, one recruit was dismissed, then that person got to choose another that had to leave the base. It's now down to Wolf and 25-year-old recruit Jen Whitlow. The outspoken Wolf, who was the youngest recruit, was often a lightning rod for controversy.

"Many of the recruits thought the way to survive was 'to fly under the radar.' However, I had to be myself which is a very outgoing and competitive person," Wolf explained.

So how did this city kid "who hates the outdoors," who brought a hair dryer to "Boot Camp," end up on the threshold of winning it all?

"I never stopped believing in myself and stuck to my guns" (no pun intended), he said. "I'm not a religious person, but I feel that someone was looking out for me."

Wolf's physical condition, which includes 12 years of gymnastics, plus a current regimen of weightlifting, didn't hurt either.

Not bad for a guy who didn't even know that "Boot Camp" producers were scouring the country for contestants late last summer. "It literally fell into my lap. One day when I went to my gym to work out, and they were having auditions for the show," the 1996 graduate of George Washington High School said.

The art of gentle persuasion is demonstrated by 'Boot Camp' drill instructors.
By the end of September, Wolf was whisked off to Camp Blanding in Jacksonville, Fla. There, Wolf and his fellow recruits were subjected to tirades by drill instructors, grueling physical challenges, lack of sleep, and "horrible food."

"We had tuna that seemed like it was three years old, and we called the potatoes au gratin 'potatoes au rotten,' " Wolf said.

Wolf, the news anchor for "Temple Update," the university"s television news show, is hoping his 15 minutes of fame will help his reporting and anchoring aspirations. "A couple of agents have expressed interest," he said. Though "Boot Camp" isn't a ratings juggernaut like "Survivor," since the show premiered on March 28 (coincidentally Wolf's birthday), Wolf's been recognized by passers-by and fellow students. There are also "Wolf packs" - fan sites, popping up on the Internet.

"People are coming out of the woodwork and jumping on the bandwagon." As an intern for KYW-3's Denise Saunders, while on shoots, many times more people recognize Wolf than the anchor/reporter. "People call out Recruit Wolf," he laughs.

Saunders, along with other friends and family including his parents, older brother, younger sister, and girlfriend gather at Jillian's at the Franklin Mills Mall each Wednesday to watch "Boot Camp."

After Temple's commencement ceremonies where he'll be honored as a "featured graduate," Wolf will be heading to New York City Friday for appearances on "Extra" and "Access Hollywood." There have also been many radio and print interviews. The media savvy Wolf lamented that Fox doesn't have a morning talk show or late night show like CBS, the home of "Survivor."

"People come up and say they have a new respect for me. No matter what happens Wednesday, I consider 'Boot Camp' a personal victory."

The season finale of "Boot Camp" is Wednesday on Fox at 9 p.m. "Boot Camp" is looking for new recruits for season two at HTTP://www.fox.com


NBC 10 Weekend Anchor and Yardley resident Lisa Mishler gave birth to her first child, daughter Alexis Brook Waltzer on May 7 at St. Mary Medical Center in Middletown. Alexis is 7 pounds 1 ounce, and 19.5 inches long, and mom, dad (Kevin) and baby are all fine. Mishler, who grew up in Yardley, graduated Pennsbury High School in 1985.

Call Laura Nachman with your comments about entertainment at 610-667-WNWR during her show today on WNWR 1540-AM, noon-1 p.m.



Thursday, May 17, 2001