If you listen closely, you can hear the sounds of coconuts being cracked open and the gentle voice of Jeff Probst saying, "Survivors Ready." OK, not really of course — but Survivor 35: Heroes Vs. Healers Vs. Hustlers premieres Wednesday, Sept. 26 on CBS, and that's almost the same thing. I once competed in the million dollar competition, only a few seasons back on Survivor 33: Millennials Vs. Genx. While my island time is over, I'm excited to see a gaggle of newbies try their hand at the game. The theme, which is how the contestants will initially be split up, is extra goofy but the competitive survival game should be as as intense as ever among the players that make up the Survivor Season 35 cast.
This season features a brand new cast of contestants, with no familiar faces or returning stars to impact the game. Social dynamics, early alliances, and first impressions will dictate the movement of the season and all depend on who these new people are. We already know some things about this cast. To start, they are brave or bonkers enough to agree to head to an island, compete in athletic challenges, struggle through a social game, and let America watch it all. (I know, I've done it.) As for other important details, I've made a cheat sheet that could prove helpful in these early episodes when there are a whole bunch of new faces on your screen and only a moment to learn names. Time to explore the new group of Survivors, with info per their CBS cast bios.
If you believe in nominative determinism, then Alan Ball may as well be named Alan Football, since he played in the NFL — most notably for the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys. He boasts that the show has never seen gameplay like his, we'll have to see if he scores an island touchdown.
Ben Driebergen can build and shoot a gun before you're done counting the marine's tattoos. In his bio, he calls himself a mix of Russel Hantz, Boston Rob and Joe Anglim, which if true would make him a very good Survivor player.
John "JP" Hilsabeck
John "JP" Hilsabeck is a firefighter with a dog named Thor so he pretty much puts the man in manly. When watching the show, he told himself, "I could do that." A Chorus Line, anyone?
Chrissy Hofbeck is an actuary who loves women in math and counts her degrees from Penn and MIT as big accomplishments. A pet peeve of hers "when someone doesn't hold a fork correctly and eats like a caveman," so she may want to close her eyes when her teammates eat.
Ashley Nolan would love to bring her surfboard to keep her sane, but sanity has no place on Survivor. The lifeguard believes if she's not first, she's last, and she refuses to be last — should make for an interesting season.
This swimmer went from a farm to the 1988 Olympics, so she knows about being a fish out of water. Katrina Radke's reason for being on Survivor is "TO WIN!" in all capital letters, per her bio.
Jessica Johnston is a nurse practitioner who has trouble with can openers but considers herself physically and mentally resilient. Jessica says she's able to entertain a crowd easily, so she should have no trouble entertaining the entire nation this season. No pressure!
When asked why she's doing Survivor, Roark Luskin said, "Clearly there is something wrong with me," which means she gets it. (I kid, I kid.) The intelligent social worker says her inspiration is Beyonce Knowles' daughter, Blue Ivy.
Cole Medders is a wilderness therapy guide who has as many abs as ambitions to do well at Survivor. Cole has climbed two peaks in the Western Hemisphere—Denali and Acacongua and hopes to climb his way to the title of Sole Survivor.
Joe Mena enjoys working out and playing fantasy football. He's on the island to win a million dollars and prove to his son that you must "go hard or go home."
Desiree "Desi" Williams
Desiree "Desi" Williams is a former pageant contestant who is trading in her quest for a crown for a torch.
Mike Zahalsky urologist who has been a fan of Survivor since Season 1 and wants to teach his kids to follow their dreams — even if it leads them to a nationally televised island adventure. His bio also says he's a germaphobe who doesn't like double dipping, so his first day in the dirt may prove challenging.
The small business owner's fiery red hair will hopefully resemble his lit torch for as long as possible. Patrick Bolton considers Survivor a business trip, which it can be, I guess. Just, like, a really dirty one.
Alexandrea "Ali" Elliott
Alexandrea "Ali" Elliott is a celebrity assistant about to become a celebrity when she starts her island time. Her bio states that she hates busy parking lots, which won't be a problem on the deserted island where the only thing blocking her path will be coconuts and physical and mental exhaustion.
According to her bio, the diversity advocate received full ride scholarships from pretty much everywhere: Columbia, Harvard, and Tufts. But, she ended up choosing Columbia. Nguyen said her reason for being on Survivor is that she "wanted a change... for like a month." Next time, a safer bet for a change would just be taking a road trip or switching toothpaste flavors.
The 23-year-old surf instructor thinks everyone will be too busy loving him and underestimating him to notice he's picking them off. A confident man to be sure.
Lauren Rimmer is a fisherman who considers herself different from all other past players. Can she reel in the title of Sole Survivor? She believes she can with personal risk and hard work.
Ryan Ulrich is a bellhop who plays the harmonica and wears a turtleneck on the island, according to The Hollywood Reporter — so I'm already madly in love with him. He's loved the game of Survivor since he was six years old and probably wore a much smaller turtleneck. Hopefully he can bell-hop over the competition.
Tune in Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS to see all the action go down when the players hit the beach.