In this 17th edition for the 2012 season we sat down with wide receiver Joe Hills and discussed getting acclimated to a new team, rivalry games and spending time with his grandmother.
Editor: Welcome Joe. You’re relatively new to the Storm, so what has the transition been like for you?
Joe Hills: It’s been cool. There are a couple of local guys here I know who have taken me under their wing. It’s been quite the journey, but it’s been fun and I’ve come a long ways, so I’m looking forward to everything that comes along from here.
ED: How much does having that familiarity with certain teammates help ease the transition in the locker room and off the field?
JH: It helps a lot. Usually when you’re a new guy, you feel a bit nervous and you don’t want to talk to a lot of people, but here, I jumped right in. Amarri [Jackson] and Julius [Wilson] kind of have given me someone to lean on.
ED: You played college ball at South Carolina before transferring to Tennessee State, so what do you think was the biggest difference for you playing at the two schools?
JH: The football is still the same, but the only differences are there are more students and the living conditions were much different. At SC, there were some pretty nice residential halls for student athletes and it usually had some good food, whereas the Division I-AA schools didn’t have that. \
ED: What would you say in your own words was the biggest advantage to playing in the SEC while at South Carolina?
JH: I think just the amount of primetime television the teams get. There was a lot of exposure and it was always exciting to know you’d be on television with a lot of scouts, family, friends and everyone watching. That was always a good feeling.
ED: I’m sure you’re familiar with the War On I-4 Rivalry between Tampa Bay and Orlando, but playing in the SEC, you probably had some good rivalries too, is that correct?
JH: Oh, no doubt. The SEC always has a tough conference schedule so every weekend it seemed like was a rivalry game. They were very intense, and I’ve never really been a part of a rivalry in the AFL, so I can’t say, but man, those SEC games were fun.
ED: You’ve been in Tampa Bay just a short time, but what has been your favorite part so far about the area?
JH: I love that I’m closer to home. My family comes to almost every game and I get to go home at night and see them, so that definitely helps. Back when I was playing in Spokane earlier this season, I always had to wait weeks and months before I got to see my family, and it was even hard to talk to them on the phone because the time zone different. So, it was a lot and at times it was tough. But I like it here a lot.
ED: Obviously Spokane is one of the two teams remaining on the schedule, so is it a little strange you could be facing your former team with postseason implications potentially on the line?
JH: It’s going to be a little strange. I still keep in touch with a lot of those guys, so it will be fun to catch up with them, but once we hit the field, we go our separate ways.
ED: I also understand you played basketball in high school, where you set a school record for most career points. How did you make the transition to football?
JH: I played both in high school, but I enjoyed football and saw that I could have a career in that, so I concentrated more on that. My family helped me out a lot with that, and so did my coaches. It was a good decision.
ED: Who were some of the players you looked up to on the football field?
JH: I always liked Andre Johnson. He’s a beast of a receiver and I always looked up to him and tried to copy some of his moves.
ED: What about off the field? What are some activities you guys like to do?
JH: We like to play video games. Call of Duty, Madden, then we’ll all go get food somewhere, so it’s fun being with the guys. We honestly don’t do a whole lot, just livin’ the life.
ED: When you say you like to go get food with the guys, where are some of your favorite places to go?
JH: Personally, I really like Sweet Tomatoes. That’s the good stuff there and most of it is pretty healthy. I also like ABC Pizza, which isn’t as healthy but it’s great, and I haven’t been to Cheddar’s yet but I want to go there too.
ED: Do you have any hidden talents that fans would be surprised to know about?
JH: Yeah, I love to sing. I’ll never sing in front of everybody though. I also like to hang out with my grandma. We usually just sit outside underneath a shady tree and talk. We don’t do much, maybe run back and forth from the store, but that’s about it.
ED: Would you say she is one of the people who inspired you throughout your life?
JH: Yeah for sure, you know. She always taught me how to be strong and to not worry about what anyone says or thinks about you, just control what you can control and leave everything else alone in God’s hands.
ED: So going back to singing, what are some of the songs you like to perform?
JH: I’m old school, so I like guys like Bobby Womack. He has this one song called “I Wish You Wouldn’t Trust Me So Much,” so I like a lot of that stuff.
ED: If you had your pick of a dream car, what would you choose?
JH: Probably what everyone else wants, a Lamborghini.
ED: Ok, what about your perfect date? Where would you take her in your Lamborghini?
JH: Like I said, I’m very old school, so I’d take her out to dinner and then the movies. Real classic.
ED: A lot of guys listen to music before a game, so what do you listen to in order to get pumped up for a game?
JH: I don’t even have an iPod. I don’t really listen to music, so most of the time I’ll just talk to my girl or my son or something like that before a game.
ED: So you love singing, but you don’t listen to music. How does that work exactly?
JH: I remix all my music. I just like to sing and put my different twists on things, so I just make my own music and songs.
ED: Ok, fair enough. Joe it’s been a pleasure. Thanks for joining us in the Eye Of The Storm.
JH: Ok, thank you.