Waltham cops team up on ABC reality show ‘Expedition Impossible’


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Team Cops – Expedition Impossible

Three Waltham Police officers”were prime-time material”last summer.

Sergeant Jim Vaglica, a Billerica resident, Lt. Robert Robillard from Concord, and Officer Dani Henderson, a resident of Marlborough, comprise the team known simply as “The Cops” on the ABC reality show “Expedition Impossible,”which debuted on Thursday, June 23.

The Cops survived the first episode’s challenges, finishing 10th overall out of a field of 13 teams.

One team will be eliminated every week during the show, which was filmed over a month in Morocco, and features various races and challenges for $150,000 and new Ford Explorers.

Vaglica, Robillard and Henderson watched the first episode together last week and plan to host another watch party at Margarita’s in Lexington this Thursday for the second episode.

They weren’t heavily featured in the debut episode, but hope to get more screen time in the future.

“We were kind of disappointed because The Cops were in it very little in the first episode,” said Vaglica. “I’ve been assured that we’re in it more this Thursday. I don’t see how we could be in it any less.”

He said the first episode may have seemed like it only spanned one day, but he said it was actually two days of challenges.

“There was at least 20 hours of actual racing that involved that first stage, spread out over two days,” said Vaglica.

The first mission on the show was to run up a giant sand dune. Vaglica said ” it took roughly two hours to get to the summit.”

Henderson said the trek was particularly challenging and tiring. She has asthma and was having trouble breathing in the suffocating heat.

“And it’s just as hard going down because all of the sand is in your shoe,” she said. “It makes your feet like 20 pounds each when you’re trying to go down. ” when you’re going down, (your feet) sink in there a lot more than when you’re going up.”

Next, the team had to climb the Todra Gorge. Once they got to the top, they had to rappel 300 feet to the bottom. Henderson, either through a fear of heights or exhaustion, said she felt like vomiting at that moment but couldn’t because her throat was so dry.

“That was the worst part,” she said. “I didn’t like that at all “ I just did it because I knew my teammates were counting on me and they both did it and I knew that was part of the competition to get to the next stage of the expedition. So I just sucked it up and did it.”

The final mission was watching a snake charmer routine and attempting to guess the amount of snakes involved. The Cops guessed 10, but the correct answer was 11.

By guessing the wrong answer, they were sent in the wrong direction and lost about 30 minutes of time, dropping them from sixth place to 10th by the end of the episode.

As the second episode nears, the team is looking forward to having a more prominent role.

Vaglica said the episode will feature Arabian stallions.

“They were wild,” he said. “They’re accustomed to real experienced riders and when a novice gets on it they can feel it. And they react. They don’t want you on them and they’re going to decide where you’re going and how fast.”

None of them knew how to ride a horse before joining the show, but took part in horse riding training before going to Morocco.

On the first episode they also had to ride camels.

Robillard said they were difficult to control.

“That was very interesting and frustrating because they’re very stubborn animals if you’re not accustomed to handling them,” he said. “They were stubborn. It was difficult to get on top of them. Plus they’re scary to ride on top of. They’re eight feet tall and you’re pretty high up there. It’s very scary’ and you have no sense of control at all.”

Vaglica said he heard the host of the show, Dave Salmoni, recently say that camels kill many people every year.

“That’s the first I’ve heard of that,” said Jim, laughing. “It’s kind of late to give us that info.”

The Cops now rave about their experience in Morocco.

“I had a wonderful time,” said Henderson, who graduated from Waltham High School in 1994. “It was a great experience and if anybody ever got the opportunity to do something like that, they should jump on it.”

Vaglica said the experience was also educational.

“I didn’t even know where Morocco was before this,” he said. “I had heard of the country and I would have guessed it was in that general area of the world, but now I know it’s northwest Africa and it’s a gorgeous country too.”

He said the expedition was “amazing.”

“I tried to enjoy every second of it, but I was also consumed with the fact that we were racing and my competitive side was always out there,” he said. “I’m the most competitive out of the three of us and I was always the one that was trying to push and go.”

Although the cast members are sworn to secrecy about their fate on the show, Vaglica did have something to say about what lies ahead for The Cops.

“I’ll just say look for The Cops in the future,” he said.

He encourages people to visit the teams Facebook page and support them. “Expedition Impossible” airs Thursday nights at 9 on ABC.

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