Saturday afternoon, the Vanderbilt Commodores visited the Missouri Tigers in an SEC battle. The newest member of the team, Sarah Fuller, made history during the game. She kicked off to start the second half and became the first woman to play in a Power 5 Conference football game.
Fuller, the starting goalkeeper on the Commodores' SEC championship women's soccer team, headed to the field for the start of the second half. She had the message "Play Like a Girl" on the back of her helmet, referencing the nonprofit that encourages girls to play sports. Fuller kicked off and used a squib to bounce the ball down the field. Missouri recovered at the 35-yard-line.
What an inspiration 🙌
Sarah Fuller becomes the first woman to play in a Power 5 college football game.November 28, 2020
"Very very cool. This is a historic moment whether people want to acknowledge that it is or not. Super cool moment," one person commented on Twitter. This tweet referenced the number of people making critical statements about Fuller and the distance of her kickoff. There were arguments about why she used a squib kick and whether the play was actually making history. However, her supporters outweighed the critics on social media.
The Commodores originally brought Fuller into the fold due to positive COVID-19 tests. The team went into quarantine ahead of Saturday's game and then head coach Derek Mason recruited the goalkeeper. He said that Fuller was an option for the team and that she has a "strong leg."
"I think it's amazing and incredible, 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," Fuller said, per CBS News. "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."
While Fuller made history with the kickoff, she did not have many opportunities to contribute in other ways. The winless Commodores failed to score a single point during the SEC game, losing 41-0 to Missouri. Despite the loss, Fuller still expressed excitement about her time on the field.
"I just want to tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to. You really can. If you have that mentality all the way through, you can do big things," Fuller told reporters after the game.