At Ballard High, Ross Humphries takes over at his alma mater.

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Ross Humphries has been coaching football for 13 years, but on Wednesday, he was nervous.

The first-time head coach, who was hired in the spring to lead Ballard High School’s program, waited in the school library for the 60 athletes in his program to show up for the first-day-of-practice meeting. The energy in the room was nearly tangible.

“So fired up,” he said. “It’s just a completely different role now. Going through this for the first time as a head coach, you’re just worried about every little thing. Making sure my checklist is getting crossed off.”

For Wednesday — the first day of practice for high-school football teams across the state — Humphries’ checklist included meeting with his team, cleaning out the “complete mess” of a locker room and, of course, the first practice of the season.

Perhaps it is Humphries’ connection to Ballard that prompted his nerves. After he graduated in 2003, he remained at Ballard for four years to coach the freshman team. Since then, he has coached in an assistant role at several high schools.

But Wednesday, he returned to the helm of his alma mater’s football program. Eleven of the 15 members of his coaching staff are Ballard alums, and Humphries knows they feel that pressure, too.

Not all of the new coaches in the Seattle area were dealing with nerves on opening day. Across town at Garfield High School, Joey Thomas, who moved over from the post Humphries now fills at Ballard, is going through similar motions with his own new team. Unlike Humphries, Thomas has been here before.

A five-year coach at Ballard, Thomas turned what was a struggling program into a team that appeared in the state tournament last season.

But his past coaching experience is only part of the reason he’s not feeling nervous as Garfield takes the field for its first day of practice. For Thomas, who played five years in the NFL, the pressure that comes with coaching prep football is nothing compared to that of NFL games.

Instead, it’s with excitement that he approaches the first day of practice.

“No nerves at all,” he said. “I’ll tell you what’s nervous, playing in front of 80,000 for New Orleans. That’s nerve-wracking. This is just exciting. I enjoy giving back. The staff is excited and the kids are excited. This is a new era and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Meanwhile, at Bainbridge High School, first-time head coach Jeff Rouser is prepping for his first day of practice after taking the program over from longtime coach Andy Grimm, who is assisting his son Alec at Kingston. His approach echoes Thomas’ despite taking over a program that hasn’t posted a winning record since 2010.

“I don’t take it as pressure, I take it as an opportunity,” said Rouser, who was an assistant at Kingston last year. “I didn’t take this job to feel pressure, I took it because I believe in what we’re going to do and I believe in this community and this school. I truly mean that. It’s just one step at a time. We’ll see what happens. Pressure means it’s not fun.”

Back in the Ballard library after their meeting, Humphries, a smile on his face, dismissed his team to clean the locker room — a sure sign of a fresh start.

“I feel a lot of pressure just because it’s my alma mater and we can’t miss,” he said. “We all feel that investment and that pressure as a staff to accomplish our goals because it’s not only these kids’ experience, but it’s us giving back to our school, our community.”