QUINCY -- The traffic whizzing north and south on 48th Street in front of the John Wood Community College campus bore witness to a historic moment at about 8 a.m. Wednesday.
The JWCC men's soccer team began its first fall practice on the grass field northwest of the Student Activity Center. It was the first time that had happened in 23 years.
"I didn't sleep very well," Trail Blazers coach Bob Cowman said. "I was nervous. I was all those things. And then I was like, ‘I've been coaching for 26 years. I should not have any of those things.' But that's what made this special. There was that anticipation."
He wasn't the only one a little edgy.
A couple of hours after the men began, the JWCC women's soccer team took the field for its inaugural training session. It was the first time JWCC coach Hayley Womack had her 15-player roster together.
"I woke up and had a smile on my face," Womack said. "It was like Christmas Eve for me (Tuesday) night. I was just thrilled to get out there and get to see the team. Everything I had to deal with beforehand was all worth it after today."
The soccer programs along with the women's volleyball program, which began practice Wednesday as well, are fledgling programs that nearly double the size of the JWCC athletic department. The Trail Blazers sponsored four sports -- men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball -- before announcing last October plans to launch the three new sports for the 2018-19 school year.
All three programs originally began in 1992 when JWCC launched its athletic department. The soccer programs were disbanded three years later, and the women's volleyball program was discontinued in 2009.
"We're embarking on a new era," said Brad Hoyt, JWCC athletic director and men's basketball coach. "We want to provide the right experience, and we want to provide the right resources for everyone. It's exciting from our department's perspective."
Everyone jumped in feet first.
Cowman was an assistant at Quincy High School and had been coaching club teams since he and his family arrived in Quincy from Ohio in 2005. He bypassed introductions and orientation before the first practice and simply put his 18 players on the field for a brisk 90-minute training session.
The how-do-you-dos and paperwork came later in the day.
"What's the most comfortable environment for someone who is new to the country or new to a group of people? That's doing what they love," Cowman said. "I just said, ‘Let's go.' That went well. We saw some speed. We saw some things people can do.
"There were some brilliant moments. I was pleased with what we did."
All of the teams ran two sessions, leaving the athletes winded and weary at the end of the day. In every case, no one dropped out of a drill, and no one quit before the day was through.
"We really focused on some fitness in the morning, about an hour of just fitness," said Womack, the former QHS standout who played at Iowa State University. "Then we got to go out and play soccer. I have a group of girls who have a no-quit attitude. They're non-stop. They go. They push themselves. They really expect a lot out of themselves."
With the right mix of local recruits and international players in all three programs, expectations for immediate success will be high.
"We're going to be able to match up with teams because even if we can't outskill them, we're going to be able to outwork them," Womack said. "We're going to put that attitude on the field. These girls have such a passion for this sport that their heart is completely in it.
"As a coach, you can't ask for anything else."