Indian Hill's 'extremely competitive' Dan Strunk longed to be on 'Survivor'
Retired teacher Steve Reger says Dan Strunk talked about his desire to be on Survivor while attending Indian Hill High School.
If the new Survivor has challenges for Seinfeld trivia, or a mock trial competition, Indian Hill native Dan Strunk will have a huge advantage.
But don't count on it.
Strunk, one of the 18 castaways on CBS' Survivor premiering March 8, was an "extremely competitive" Indian Hill High School student who beat childhood cancer, recalls Steve Reger, retired Indian Hill High School social studies teacher. He's got the tattoo to prove it. (More about that later.)
"Danny stood out immediately," says Reger, who retired last month. "He had a winning smile, a great attitude, and a thirst to understand everything. It was only after I had come to admire him that I learned that he was also a cancer survivor."
Yes, Strunk already is a survivor. Strunk, 30, who will be identified on the show as a law clerk living in New Haven, CT, made headlines in the Indian Hill Journal as a high school senior in 2009 for organizing a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The story said that Strunk's leukemia had been in remission for almost five years.
What intrigued Reger the most about Strunk, however, was his "encyclopedic knowledge of all things Seinfeld. He may — I repeat may — be the only person on the planet who knows that show's trivia better than I do."
In CBS' promotional video for Survivor, Strunk praised "an amazing government high school teacher" who ignited an interest in law. He didn't name the teacher or his alma mater.
Reger says he "inspired Danny ... by getting him involved in the Mock Trial team" that Reger still coaches in retirement.
"Danny and I are both extremely competitive and we bonded immediately," Reger says. "Working together, we won the first two of Indian Hill's seven Mock Trial state championships (in 2009 and 2010). Part of how I inspired Danny was by promising that, when — not if — he won Indian Hill's first Mock Trial State Championship, I would get a tattoo to commemorate the event. I did, and I added to it when he repeated in 2010."
Reger, 51, isn't surprised that the 2010 Indian Hill graduate ended up as a lawyer — or on Survivor. Strunk says on the CBS video that being on Survivor "is like this itch, and I want there to be no Survivor Itch any more."
"Danny once told me that he had four 'itches' to scratch," Reger says. "In no particular order, they were to win a Mock Trial State championship. Check (twice actually!) To be on Survivor. Check! To become a federal judge — that one is just a matter of time. And to perform in Star Wars The Musical — which I'm pretty sure does not yet exist. But once it does, it will be checkmate!"