Columbia, Missouri – Sarah Fuller made history by becoming the first female to play in the Southeastern and Power 5 men’s football Conference. Fuller made her debut for Vanderbilt in the second half against Missouri on Saturday. Her opportunity came after several players on special teams went into quarantine due to COVID-19. Vanderbilt, originally thought of as a male institution, now extends opportunities to people regardless of gender.
While becoming the first female to kick at a major university is a big deal, there have been other trailblazers before Fuller. Becca Longo became the first female placekicker to earn a scholarship. Longo is a placekicker at Adams University. Toni Harris accepted a scholarship to play football at Central Methodist University last year.
After the game, Fuller gave her thoughts about being a representative of little girls everywhere. “It encourages them to step out and do something big like this, it’s awesome,” she said. Fuller will continue to play with the caption “play like a girl” on the back of her helmet. Play Like a Girl is a non-profit organization that believes sports can help girls sharpen their leadership skills.
“Guys were impressed, I think, the first day (Fuller) came out,” said Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason. Fuller, a senior, is currently a goalkeeper for the Vanderbilt women’s soccer team. But despite Fuller’s history-making moment, Vanderbilt lost 41-0. Will there ever come a time when female football players are a fixture on both the college and professional levels?
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