BLACKFOOT â€” Stoddard Elementary students gave Blackfoot native Josh Hill an enthusiastic welcome to their school on Tuesday.
Hill is No. 89 with the New Orleans Saints. He attended Stoddard Elementary, Blackfoot Sixth Grade Center and Mountain View Middle School before graduating from Blackfoot High School.
Asked what they liked about Hill, Stoddard fifth graders said:
"He's a professional!" exclaimed Kyler Mills.
"He proves anyone from anywhere can succeed," said Demry Wixom.
"It a really good honor to meet him," said Emilio Torres. "He's in the NFL. It's an honor to meet a professional football player."
"Students have been bouncing off the walls [in anticipation of Hill's visit]," said one Stoddard secretary.
Speaking to the Stoddard students, Hill said, "I played a lot of sports. In elementary school, I played soccer, karate, basketball and baseball.
"Sports were most important," he said.
"In high school, things changed," said Hill. "I had to get good grades and behave well in school to be able to play sports.
"The focus was on schoolâ€”reading, math, all those subjects."
"When I was growing up, I wanted to be like [quarterback] Brett Favre," said Hill.
Hill attended Boise State for one year before transferring to Idaho State University where he earned his degree in sports management.
"When I tried out for the Saints, they look at the kind of person you are," Hill said. "They want to know your grades.
"I had good grades so that benefitted me," he said.
Some of the questions the students asked Hill were:
How long have you been playing football?
"Thirteen years," Hill said. "I started playing in the sixth grade."
Do you like it?
"I love it," he said. "I love playing football."
What position do you play?
What team were you playing when you made your touchdown?
"San Francisco 49ers."
Did you keep the football?
"I put it on the ground initially but then they gave it to me."
How old are you?
Former Stoddard teacher Wendy Scott said Hill "was a great kid in elementary.
"He worked hard and played hard," she said. "It's so great to see him succeed."
"I've known him since he was in the first grade," said Michele Hernandez. "I helped teach him in intramurals and threw a football to him during recess.
"I'm so proud of him."