Jaime Hill boasts a cool Instagram handle: kingjames_08 and earlier in the week he posted a clever photo on his future.
The picture of Hill, who wore No. 8 for the University of New Hampshire ice hockey team, read: Proud to announce I’m taking my talents to southern France.
The recent graduate was announcing his future while playing off the other King James – LeBron James infamously said he was taking his talents to South Florida when he signed with the Miami Heat.
“It will be an awesome experience,” Hill said.
Hill, who grew up in Glassboro, played at Bishop Eustace Prep School and then with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League before going to New Hampshire.
Now, he will play professionally in southeast France for the Pionniers de Chamonix-Morzine.
“Yeah I've been around the block,” he said with a laugh.
Hill is 25-years-old. He redshirted as a freshman and then played four years at New Hampshire. He played three seasons at Waterloo in Iowa, where he lived with host families and finished up high school, after playing three years at Bishop Eustace.
Hill, who signed last week, credits his rapid development in hockey to Crusaders head coach Mike Green and assistant Keith Primeau.
“They were a tremendous help,” Hill said. “They were always pushing me to be the best player I could.
“Coach Green trusted me pretty much as a sophomore to be a leader of the team.”
Growing up in South Jersey, Hill knew both Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and Kyle Criscuolo, who is in the Detroit Red Wings minor league system.
Gaudreau grew up in Carneys Point and played at Gloucester Catholic and then Boston College while Criscuolo grew up in Southampton and played at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia and then Harvard.
“I played with Kyle when I was growing up,” Hill said, “ and I've known Johnny pretty well, we've grown up playing since we were three years old and his dad taught me how to play hockey. We probably played together from three until we were 14 years old.”
Like Gaudreau and Criscuolo, Hill is on the smaller side at 5-foot-9.
“I look at them and they are very inspiring, especially Johnny with what he has done,” Hill said.
Hill, a right-handed shot, played both wings at New Hampshire.
“I definitely know how to skate,” Hill said. “I'm really quick up the ice and in the transition game.”
Last season, Hill played in a career-high 36 games. He was limited to four goals and seven assists since he was needed to fill defensive and checking roles at New Hampshire. At Waterloo, he proved he could score, collecting 83 points in 165 regular-season games and helping the Black Hawks to the 2011-12 Clark Cup finals with nine goals and six assists for 15 points in 15 games.
“The coach used me where he knew I could help the team no matter what the situation,” Hill said about New Hampshire. “I accepted the role, being a senior and a captain, and wherever he wanted me to play, I played.”
Hill doesn’t know what position he will play or how he will be used for the Pionniers de Chamonix-Morzine. He does know he will be going to one of the most beautiful regions in the world. Chamonix is a famous ski region in the Alps.
“I saw pictures and it's gorgeous over there,” said.
Hill doesn't know the language, but he plans to learn some French before he leaves.
“I took Spanish all through high school and in college I took a semester of Italian,” he said. “I'm thinking of taking a class just to get the language down a little bit.”
Hill signed a one-year contract with the Pionniers de Chamonix-Morzine.
“There are four leagues and I'm in the second one,” Hill said about professional hockey in France. “They were in the top league last year, but they were the worst team and dropped down.”
Hill has played youth games in Canada, but has limited experience in Europe.
“That's going to be very interesting,’ he said. “I was over in Sweden for a few weeks but other than that … so this will be eye-opening getting to learn a different culture.”
Hill, who received his degree in communications, is still up in New Hampshire working out for the next couple weeks before he will come back to South Jersey.
Then, bon voyage!
“I have to be over there August 1, and I think we start up the next week,” he said.
“I'm just taking it year-by-year,” he said. “I love the opportunity to start fresh somewhere and not in America from a hockey standpoint.
“I just want it to get a new start and hopefully make a living over in Europe and maybe come back, but I don't know, I'm just going to take it year-by-year and see how it goes.”
And we can follow his most excellent adventure and the beauty of Chamonix on Instagram at kingjames_08.