Sarah Fuller Makes History at Vanderbilt
Sarah Fuller kicks off for Vanderbilt (Photo from Getty Images in the New York Times)
When Sarah Fuller stepped to the tee for Vanderbilt University’s second-half kick-off of its football game against the Missouri Tigers, her helmet sported a sticker on the back that said “Play Like a Girl.” Fuller had just emerged from the locker room and had given a speech to her teammates encouraging them to support each other. With her 35-yard kick, Fuller ushered in a new period of development for women in sports by becoming the first female to play in a Power 5 college football conference game.
Fuller’s kick joins other recent achievements across professional and major college sports. Kim Ng became the first female general manager in baseball. Katie Sowers became the first female to coach in a Super Bowl for the San Francisco 49ers.
With other special teams players being unavailable for COVID reasons, Head Coach Derek Mason recruited Fuller to be an option for their game against Missouri. Fuller, a senior on the Vanderbilt women’s soccer team, recently led the team to a Southeast Conference championship. She practiced with the football team during the week before the game, and according to “Sports Illustrated”, was able to consistently make field goals from a maximum distance of 38 yards.
The Vanderbilt Commodores were never able to get to in field goal range, and Fuller didn’t have the opportunity for any point scoring kicks. The Vanderbilt Commodores lost the game 41-0, worsening their record to 0-8. The Vanderbilt team has been struggling throughout the season and has not had a winning record since 2013. However, many people watched as Fuller made history; she brought a lot of attention to the Vanderbilt team.
Following the loss, Head Coach Derek Mason was fired. However, according to ESPN the interim coach Todd Fitch says that Fuller will travel to Georgia for the team’s upcoming game against Georgia, which has been postponed until December 15th.
Fuller’s kick traveled 35 yards, short for most kicks. According to “Sports Illustrated,” the coaches instructed Fuller to do the short-distance squib kick because they wanted her motion to match what she was used to in soccer, which didn’t require a follow through and was more directional. Fuller faced a lot of criticism on many social media platforms about her performance. Many people didn’t know that the short kick was a designed play or that Fuller has already become an inspiration and leader on the field, not just in history.