Fuller’s big moment came at the start of the second half when delivered what turned out to be a squib kick to start the play and hopefully improve Vanderbilt’s fortunes in the contest that stood at 21-0 at halftime.
“HISTORY MADE,” the SEC Network asserted in a tweet moments after Fuller’s momentous kick came shortly before 2 p.m. ET.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 28, 2020
Fuller was tapped to suit up with the team earlier this week after other members of Vanderbilt’s Commodores were benched because of possible exposure to COVID-19. The 21-year-old from Texas is a star soccer player who last week helped lead Vanderbilt to triumph in the SEC’s women’s soccer tournament. The prospect of Fuller blazing a trail on the gridiron drew cheers before Saturday’s game, scheduled to begin at noon ET in Columbia, Mo., from college football fans, sports and media industry leaders.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King noted the milestone in a tweet and added: “Women belong in the game!”
Football history may happen today.
Good luck to @VanderbiltU’s Sarah Fuller, goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, who is dressing for their football team as its place-kicker.
If she plays, she will be the 1st woman to do so in Power 5 football.
Women belong in the game! https://t.co/XouFpvMRgd
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) November 28, 2020
Fuller confirmed with a tweet on Friday that she had been tapped to practice with the Commodores. She acknowledged the magnitude of the moment by noting that she will play with the slogan “Play like a girl” on the back of her helmet. Fuller said the decision was a nod to the nonprofit org I Play Like a Girl, which aims to expose girls to opportunities in sports and in STEM-related educational and professional fields.
Tomorrow I will be wearing “Play Like a Girl” on the back of my helmet. @iplaylikeagirl is nonprofit that encourages girls to play sports and get exposure to STEM opportunities. Check them out! #playlikeagirl https://t.co/2inXh5PM2V pic.twitter.com/W7lF9dXkUR
— Sarah Fuller (@SarahFuller_27) November 27, 2020
According to the Tennessean, Fuller stands six-foot-two and hails from Wylie, Texas. She’s a two-time SEC champion who played goalkeeper for Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt head football coach, told ESPN on Saturday that “sometimes you just gotta think outside of the box” when faced with unexpected challenges. Mason said that after his team was rocked by COVID-19 exposure, he reached out to Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer coach, Darren Ambrose, who suggested Fuller.
“Her nickname is ‘Champ,’ ” Mason noted to ESPN. “She was fearless. She plays football the way she plays soccer.”
Vanderbilt’s Commodores are 0-7 for the season. But the Nashville institution missed no opportunity to highlight the history that is likely to be made. Women have taken in the field for college football teams in the past, but never for such a high-profile team in a top conference like the SEC.
— Vanderbilt Football (@VandyFootball) November 28, 2020
THIS MORNING ON @GMA: No woman has ever played in a Power 5 conference game. That could all change today if Sarah Fuller takes to the field when Vanderbilt plays Missouri. MORE HERE: https://t.co/K28yaUNjd3 pic.twitter.com/zc1OjlF2by
— Good Morning America (@GMA) November 28, 2020