In the season opener of the CBS Competition Series “Tough as Nails”, which aired on Jan. 4, Little Meadows, Pa. native Jake Cope, one of 12 contestants on the Season 4 show, proved that he was tough as nails.
The series celebrates individuals working in trade and blue-collar jobs, and where working long hours and getting dirty means everything in accomplishing the job at hand so our country doesn’t come to a grinding halt. Individuals are tested for their strength, endurance, life skills, and mental toughness in challenges that capture the essence of real-life jobs.
At a Watch Party held at the Tioga Downs Casino Resort on Wednesday, and where about 100 people gathered, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and special guests supported Jake.
Jake pointed out that he really wants his time on the show to be remembered as, “A comeback story.”
Cope originally applied and was accepted for the show’s first season. However, Jake took a devastating fall that tore his quadriceps and the meniscus in his knee, and just two days before production was slated to start.
Cope explained, “The CBS team kept me in mind for a future season, and I was called back for Season 4.”
A pipeline laborer since he graduated from Northeast Bradford in 2006, Cope is well versed in working in demanding job site conditions, and faced that at the filming site on Catalina Island, located off the coast of California.
Regarding fellow Season 4 contestants, Cope said, “A camaraderie was formed, and I hope to keep in touch with them.”
Cope said that he would like viewers to recognize the sacrifices that pipeline workers, like him, and all other trades people make to keep the economy running.
At the Season 4 opener, Jake encountered a rough start, and was then the last chosen during the team selections. It was after that experience, though, when his physical and mental toughness, along with true grit, kicked in. At the individual challenge, and where he had to finish off a section of a concrete retaining wall with precise skill, he broke through and won it.
Special guests at the event included Tough as Nails season 3 winner Lia Mort, along with Season 3 contestant Kelsy Reynolds, and Season 2 participant Patrick ‘Freight Train’ Hargan.
Reynolds, from Mansfield, Illinois, enthusiastically remarked, “Being on the show was a great experience, it is super-positive and we’re all family now,” adding as a note to viewers or future contestants, “If you’re small like me, don’t let that stop you!”
Reynolds’ work as a crop duster is just one example of the diverse types of professions that are highlighted on the series. With her own woman-owned business, she runs long days from sun-up to sun-down flying and spraying from aircraft, and which ultimately helps farmers grow their crops.
Reynolds noted that a particular individual challenge, and where she suited up with other contestants for a sink-or-swim, search-and-rescue, fear-facing moment at a U.S. Coast Guard site in California, was most memorable, and, she chuckled, she will never forget the red outfit that was an obstacle, and overwhelmingly big on her.
Lia Mort, Season 3 winner, agreed that the U.S. Coast Guard challenge was extremely difficult. Mort, from Richfield, Pa., will carry the torch as the first woman to win the Tough as Nails competition. An Army veteran, Mort served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as a ‘Jill-of-All-Trades’ owning a myriad of skills, proved that she was tough as nails.
Mort shared her mantra at the Watch Party, “If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll figure it out,” and it’s that positive outlook that carried her through to the Season 3 win.
Season 2 participant Patrick ‘Freight Train’ Hargan, who was sporting a hoodie showcasing his famous nickname, shared that the challenges during his season were quite extraordinary.
Like one, he said, where, “We had to build a garage in two hours.”
Hargan later faced his fear of heights while cleaning windows on a filthy skyscraper in Los Angeles. He was unable to hold himself, and ended up in an ambulance. Unfortunately, that incident eliminated him from any other individual competitions due to being outside of the show’s “COVID bubble” at the time.
Today, Hargan has resumed his UPS delivery job near the Philadelphia area, where fans often stop him.
Hargan noted, “The show features life skills, and fans relate to that,” adding, “People who are in trades make the world-go-around.”
Prior to the two-hour premiere of Tough as Nails on the Tioga Downs ballroom’s big-screen TV, Cope thanked everyone for attending, and the three special guests took a few moments to speak to Watch Party attendees.
Mort pointed out, “Thousands try out and twelve make it. Just making it on the show is something to be proud of,” adding, “It’s all a great testament to the human spirit.”
You can watch Jake Cope’s progress on the next episode of Tough as Nails on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 10 p.m.