For many years, the term “play like a girl” has always been used in a derogatory manner. It is always meant to insinuate that the person is a lesser athlete than a typical male and plays at a sub-standard level.
Thanks to Sarah Fuller and her blazing path through history, the idea of playing like a girl might no longer be a stigma. Fuller is a 21-year-old female from Wylie, Texas. She stands six foot two inches and made the history books on November 28, 2020.
She became the first woman in history to play for the Vanderbilt football team and for any Power Five football team. The Vanderbilt Commodores is the football program for Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and the Power Five conferences are the five athletic conferences considered to be the elite of collegiate football in the US.
The decision to put Fuller in the game was not a publicity stunt, it was out of necessity. The Commodores football season had garnered zero wins. However, the Vanderbilt Women’s Soccer team just won the Southeastern Conference Division 1 Championship – its first title since 1994. Fuller showed off her kicking chops while playing for the championship team. What better way to increase the football team’s chances of winning than to place a championship kicker in their midst? The football team’s roster was also diminished because of COVID-19 contact tracing.
The Commodores’ former head coach Derek Mason discussed the need in a press conference.
“Listen, I’m not about making statements,” Mason said. “This was out of necessity.”
Ironically, Mason was fired the following day for unrelated reasons.
Fuller is a goalkeeper on the soccer team and her jersey number is 32; the same jersey number she wears for the football team.
In the historical end of November game, Fuller took the second-half kickoff during the Vanderbilt v. Missouri game. Her kick went 30 yards to the Missouri 35-yard line, and Missouri defensive back Mason Pack recovered the ball. Vanderbilt quarterback Mike Wright was the first teammate to greet her at the side lines with a congratulatory high five.
Even though the Commodores lost the game, it was still a historic game for Fuller and many women worldwide.