The proud new parents of Tucker Nicholas Troutman

By Eugene Buchanan

Competitors better hope they don’t lose to Jackson Kayak president Eric Jackson at this year’s World Freestyle Championships. If they do, they’ll be losing to a grandpa.

Yep, EJ is a proud grandpops, his daughter Emily an even more proud mom and son-in-law Nick Troutman a happy-as-a-kayaking-clam dad with the recent birth of Tucker Nicholas River Troutman as the latest addition to the Jackson clan.

Born July 14 at 7 lbs. and 20.5 inches at 4:59 p.m. at the Natural Birthing Center in Cookeville, Tenn., Tucker came into this world from a cocoon of water, and if his paddling pedigree is any indication, it’s likely he’ll keep the tradition alive.

“I’m super excited to finally have him here,” says Emily. “He’s already an amazingly easy baby and cries only when hungry or cold. He sleeps through the Jackson family loudness with no problems.”

It’s a commendable trait, and chances are kayaking will be also. If he becomes a boater, you couldn’t ask for a better bloodline. Between his mom, dad and granddad, there is a lot of freestyle hardware on the shelf. Mom Emily owns a gold and silver from the World Championships; dad Nick holds the same; and grandpa EJ (dang, that’s still hard to say) has four golds and two silvers from World Championships hanging in the hallway.

In all, that’s 10 World Championships medals for young Tucker to use as rattles and teething toys. But Emily, who’s been kayaking since age 3, isn’t about to push him toward paddling. “I think he’ll do whatever he wants to do and we will support whatever that is,” she says. “But obviously it would suck for him growing up to sit on shore when we’re out having fun boating. So I think he’ll want to try it.”

Dad Nick agrees, even as he’s still learning the ropes of fatherhood. “I’m super excited to be a dad, though I have plenty to learn,” he says. “I’ve already changed more diapers in a day than I thought was possible.”

As for Tucker taking up kayaking, Nick adds that it’s likely inevitable. “I think he will most definitely be a paddler and probably a total waterman,” he says. “I can’t wait to get him out on the water—though that will probably still be a couple more days.” If Tucker is anything like mom, the next generation had better watch out. Emily won both the FIBArk and Payette River Games at nine months pregnant in June before heading back to Cookeville. But first the upstart with River as a middle name will have to get by the older generation, including dad Nick and grandpops.

“After three days of getting to know him I think we have a winner,” says EJ, who, along with son-in-law Nick and son Dane will be competing at this year’s World Freestyle Championships at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. “He’ll be kayaking in no time, and I’m sure he’ll be kicking my butt at some point.

If he ever competes, and that seems to be the Jackson way, he’ll have to compete against me at some point. I’ll go as easy on him as I did on my kids. I think his uncle KC will hit the scene first, but Tucker won’t be far behind with Nick and Emily on the project.”

Welcome to the new world, Tucker!

Sidebar: How EJ Got There
“We dropped everything, drove from Canada to New York to get a flight from Syracuse to Nashville as soon as she went into labor, and then we got there after she had him. But we were there that night when she brought him home. The real deal of Emily and Nick having their own kid really set in the second I saw him for the first time. Wow, Emily is a mother, and I’m a grandfather; that is too cool for school.”