Sarah Fuller has made history as the first woman to play in a Power Five college football game. The 21-year-old Vanderbilt University senior made her debut as the kicker for the Commodores against the University of Missouri Tigers. Fuller kicked off for the second half of the game, making history.
Fuller is also a soccer goalkeeper for Vanderbilt. She became a starter as a senior this year, when she helped lead her team to the SEC championship.
Besides inspiring women on the field, Fuller has teamed up with the Play Like a Girl organization to empower women in all aspects of life. Fuller wore the words “Play Like a Girl” on the back of her football helmet and encouraged her supporters to donate to the organization on her social media platforms.
Fuller’s historic kick and public backing of the organization have created a lot of publicity for Play Like a Girl. The organization encourages girls of all ages to get involved in sports. Play Like a Girl has been “sparking girls’ imaginations” since the organization was founded in 2004. On top of encouraging girls to play sports, the organization also introduces STEM topics to young girls and encourages them to become involved in STEM, if interested.
“Playing like a girl used to be an insult, but now it’s a compliment. It’s something you want to strive for,” Fuller told College GameDay.
As a groundbreaking female athlete, Fuller did experience some backlash after her first game. Naysayers on Twitter and Instagram claimed that Fuller’s accomplishment of making the team was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
Fuller said that she isn’t concerned with haters’ criticism of her performance based on her gender.
“They can talk crap all they want. This is something that I believe I’ve earned,” said Fuller. “I’ll take on the hate. I don’t care.”
This week Fuller was also named the SEC’s special teams player of the week.