As the sun rose on Lew Hertzog Field Wednesday morning so did the dawn of the SIU women's soccer program.
The team took to the field for its first practice -- a team that includes a handful of local talent -- like Harrisburg's Devin Butler, Carbondale's Ashley Moore and Marion's Marissa Bassi and Blake Clark.
Butler, an All-South player this past season for the Bulldogs, is now a Saluki and for her the scale of going from prep to college soccer has been a quick one.
"The difference is definitely speed and it's more physical," Butler said following practice Wednesday. "Some of us had to report here over the summer and aside from taking classes, we workout and run. Normally after workouts we would go scrimmage for an hour. Obviously it's very exciting to finally have everyone here and have practices with our coach. I just can't wait to see what the future holds for us."
Butler played in 16 games for Harrisburg this past spring and concluded her senior season with 50 points, including 19 goals and 12 assists.
The local flavor is something that Butler hopes proves to be beneficial to the program from a fan standpoint.
"It's very thrilling to start up a new program and be here and be the local person and have people come and watch me that I know. A lot of people are going to be here and like Marissa said, there isn't going to be a lot of room for everybody."
The firsts keep coming for Butler, not only being a member of the very first SIU women's soccer program, but personal things as well, as Butler revealed a new tattoo on her forearm prior to practice.
That's only the beginning of many firsts she is looking forward too.
"I can't wait to travel and all the new places and getting the whole experience out of it."
The players weren't the only one that had a day of firsts.
SIU head coach Grant Williams had a pinch-me moment that for him, he was just happy it finally happened.
"That we finally got to get the balls out. Holy cow," Williams joked. "It feels like all we have been doing for the last year is talking about it so the pinch-me moment for me was actually getting to be there with the kids and drop the balls and get them all together.
"We've had a large block of them here over July and that was great for them to get acclimated to their surroundings, work with our strength staff, and get a class in. Not everybody was here and I don't get to have contact with them so for them to all be in one place, to get the balls out and to be on the field together was really a great thing this morning."
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.