By: Lily Caravela
History was made on Saturday, November 28th, 2020, in Columbia, Missouri, as Vanderbilt University placekicker Sarah Fuller became the first woman ever to play in a Power Five college football game.
This wasn’t a usual scenario for Fuller, as she typically is found on the soccer field, saving goals as a keeper. Throughout her time at Vanderbilt, Fuller has played 859 minutes with 28 career saves. With many Vanderbilt football players stricken with COVID-19 and having to deal with an empty campus, Fuller was chosen by her head coach to be the placekicker. Her in-depth knowledge of the game and powerful kick landed her this important position. Fuller’s soccer team had also just won their first SEC Championship since 1994. In a matter of days following the championship, thousands of people were witnessing history being played out on the football field.
After a rough start for the Commodores against Missouri, including being down 21-0 at halftime, Fuller entered the second half with new energy to kickoff. As soon as her foot touched the ball, she distinguished herself among all other athletes, as she became the first female to be in this position. Afterward, Fuller was put on the depth chart to be used for field goals, extra points, and kickoffs.
Kelli Josephson, the JCHS girls soccer coach, stated, “It speaks volumes of her talent and athleticism, and also her courage for stepping out of her comfort zone and trying something new on a very public stage. It’s a breakthrough for women’s sports everywhere, and I appreciate her willingness to set an example for women and girls in the sport for years to come.”‘ Josephson recently led the girls to their first State Sectional Championship win since 2012, in her very first season as head coach.
Many other professional athletes like soccer players Mia Hamm and Tim Howard had reached out to Fuller after her opening game. Mia Hamm tweeted, “Congratulations Sarah Fuller. It was so amazing watching you make history with my daughters.” Thousands of young girls across the country wished Fuller congratulations, as she is a new inspiration for all.
“I think it was pretty neat to see a new barrier being broken” says JCHS head football Coach Tom Lamont. “Even at Caldwell, we had a girl on the football team, Alo Homan, which was an eye-opening experience. I give her a lot of credit for putting herself out there and for really proving herself.” Alo Homan, a 2019 JCHS alumni, was the first female to play on the football team. She had inspired many young girls in Caldwell, and all around the surrounding areas.
Fuller was also nominated for the Capital One Orange Bowl FWAA Courage Award for the week on December 2nd.
With all of the positive talk about Sarah Fuller, there was also another side to the story. JCHS sophomore Olivia Truzzolino had seen a different approach to the celebrations of the situation. Truzzolino stated, “It’s definitely a great step for women in men’s sports. However, I feel as though the reactions to her accomplishment were a bit back-handed because making a huge deal about it furthered the stereotype that women shouldn’t be a part of ‘manly sports.’ Women participating in something that’s typically a ‘man’s role’ should be more normalized and accepted in 2020, such as Sarah Fuller playing football”.
Fuller’s performance in her football debut has not only sparked her career, but has motivated many individuals across the United States to go against the social norm. Young girls now look up to Fuller, as her actions have opened up many new opportunities for women everywhere. Most importantly, Fuller’s achievemanty is a genuine breakthrough for the feminist cause, and her actions will be mirrored in the near future.