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August 27, 2009

In 1984 I met a young kid training on the “Feeder Canal” in Bethesda, Maryland. It was my first time to D.C.. That kid was Joe Jacobi. Always energetic, helpful, supportive of other athletes, he was a team player in an individual sport. Before I knew it he was on the USA Slalom Team in the C2 class with Scott Strausbaugh and shortly after that on the USA Olympic team for Barcelona with me. They entered into the opening ceremonies without much fanefare about their possibility of winning that event, but one gold medal later and Joe and Scott showed the world just what they were capable of. That was 15 years ago…

Today, Joe approaches he kayak school, and the support of kayaking with the same kind of energy and skill he did the Olympics. Married, with a beautiful wife and daughter (Seu) named after the villiage the Olympic slalom race was held in, he lives in Ducktown, TN, on the Ocoee River.

I am very proud to welcome Joe to Team JK. Nobody could embody the spirit of JK any better than Joe. I will strive to learn from him, as he has so much to offer!

Welcome Joe!


Joe’s Bio

The day after they hung the medal around my neck at the 1992 Olympic Games, I woke up and started down a road I still follow today—teaching others about the passion and intensity I used to succeed in my favorite sport, whitewater kayaking.

Since that “day after,” I’ve continued to apply Olympian standards to my life’s vision:

Community Building: The idea of a “Backyard Olympics” sounds pretty cool. Sharing it with your fellow international competitors by living together in a huge 1920s Victorian home is even cooler. A year before the 1996 Olympics, I bought and renovated an ailing property near the Olympic Whitewater venue in Tennessee and made it a home for his family and visiting athletes from Italy, Slovenia, Netherlands, Great Britain & Japan. Five years later, the Lodge at Copperhill sold as one of the region’s most popular overnight destinations and a fundamental part of its guests’ outdoor/adventure lifestyle “adjustments.” This experience opened doors for me to play key roles in the development of next-generation parks, conference centers, and lifestyle destinations such as the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

RiverLife Coaching: As an instructor and coach pushing boundaries each day, I frame the basics of paddlesports as powerful learning experiences for first time paddlers all the way up to the Olympic level. I position the river to be a dynamic, convincing yet empathetic teacher whose lessons extend far beyond the river. From US Military personnel who have returned home from the Middle East with lower body injuries to the Olympic pursuit of young kayakers, I promote kayaking not as the destination but a springboard for getting there.

Telling Kayaking’s Story: I was honored to serve as the Canoe/Kayak Color Commentator for NBC at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China as well as other network broadcasts on MSNBC, Universal Sports and Outdoor Life Network. If you worked at Fortune 500 companies like Coca Cola, Home Depot, United Airlines or Bank of America (to name a few) in the last 15 years, you might recall me sharing some life lessons from the rivers with you and your colleagues.

Websites –

I profile (usually video) cool people, stories, and life lessons from the river as well other adventures that I come across during my travels.

Chattanooga’s Green Story in 5-minute web-cast video posts.

I live in Ducktown, Tennessee (five minutes from the Ocoee) with my wife, Lisa, an accomplished musician and recording artist, and our daughter, Seu Jane, 8, who is named for the beautiful Spanish village where EJ and I competed at the 1992 Olympic Games.

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