Fuller, who wore a "Play like a Girl" sticker on her helmet, said she wanted to set a good example for young girls.
No woman has ever participated in a Power 5 football game. However, college football placekicker for the Vanderbilt Commodores Sarah Fuller has changed that. If you are unfamiliar with what a Power 5 game is, it is a football match that takes place at one of the five biggest and most popular athletic conferences. These conferences include the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, and Pac-12 Conference. The player kicked off for Vanderbilt to start the second half of the game in Missouri, Good Morning America reports. She said she was "really calm" but excited to step out onto the field.
"I was really excited to step out on the field and do my thing," she shared. "I just want to tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to, you really can. And if you have that mentality all the way through, you can do big things." The placekicker claimed her soccer championship game (she is also a college soccer goalkeeper) was "more stressful." The move has been described as "history-making," and Fuller has since drawn support from both fans of Vanderbilt as well as Missouri. One Mizzou fan even showed off a sign cheering her on at Saturday night's game. Similarly, congratulations flew in from the SEC; Tennessee Titans; Jen Welter, the NFL's first woman coach; tennis legend Billie Jean King; and Vanderbilt alums. One alum, Adena Friedman, the president and CEO of Nasdaq, called Fuller a "tremendous athlete and role model."
She of course also received immense support from her head soccer coach Darren Ambrose, who said she was the "right person for the job." The coach stated in a social media post, "So excited for you and for college football." Fuller, who simply wanted to set a good example for other young girls in sport, stamped on a "Play Like a Girl" sticker on the back of her helmet. This was reportedly a subtle way to acknowledge the nonprofit, which encourages girls to become changemakers and leaders in STEM through keeping them engaged in sports.
Fuller was given the opportunity to participate after many of the Vanderbilt football team's specialists had to quarantine this week due to testing for the coronavirus. The player said it was "an honor" to help out the team. "I think it's amazing and incredible," she stated. "But I'm also trying to separate that because I know this is a job I need to do, and I want to help the team out and I want to do the best that I can. Placing that historical aspect aside just helps me focus in on what I need to do. I don't want to let them down in any way."
Now, Fuller joins a small but talented list of women athletes who have also competed in the Football Bowl Subdivision as kickers. This includes Katie Hnida for New Mexico in the early 2000s and April Goss for Kent State in the mid-2010s. While the Commodores ultimately lost the game 41-0, making them an unfortunate 0-8 for the season, there is no doubt that fans of the sport itself must consider the game a victory.