On Nov. 28, Vanderbilt College soccer player Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play college football in Power 5 history, including the Southeastern Conference, Pac-12, BIG Ten, BIG 12 and the Atlantic Coast Conference. Although the University of Missouri won 41-0, she got her chance to kick at the start of the second half.
History was made when Fuller stepped onto the field to kick the ball about forty yards downfield. No, she did not kick it for a touchback, but she did her job. She did not allow the opposing team to return the ball downfield.
She is also a goalkeeper for the Vanderbilt Commodore soccer team. As part of her football helmet, she wore “Play Like A Girl” on the back of her helmet.
Vanderbilt kickers Pierson Cookie and Wes Farley were unable to play due to COVID-19 restrictions and protocols. This left the kicker position open for Sarah Fuller. She began kicking for the Commodores in practice, on Nov. 24.
While playing soccer, Fuller recorded three shutouts and totaled seven wins over a span of 14 games. The last woman to kick in a collegiate football game was April Goss, who kicked for one game in 2015 for Kent State University.
Although this is the first time, former football players and athletes worldwide hope that this is not the last time.
“I think it can be the start of something amazing,” said Daniel Tanomand, former Tesoro High School football kicker. “There are talented and strong women that can excel in lots of positions within men’s sports.”
Fuller opened many eyes around the world, especially for female athletes, as they look for more opportunities in college football.
“It was inspirational and a big step in girls participating in professional sports,” said Blake Morgan, a Southern Oregon University football player. “Hopefully, in the future, more women who are capable can see the big screen as we move forward.”
On Nov. 29 she was named SEC special teams co-player of the week. She even delivered a half-time speech in the locker room to her teammates as her teammates were not cheering each other on.
“I think it is a big step for athletics and it shows that it really does not matter who you are,” said Nathan Manning, a baseball player at the University of California, Berkeley. “As long as you have what it takes, there should not be any question whether to play that person whatever gender they may be.”
In a year where we have seen many bad things happen to people around the world, this is a positive light that will change the future of athletics.