Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller makes history as first woman to play in Power 5 football game


Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller, right, kicks off as Ryan McCord (27) holds to start the second half of an NCAA college football game against Missouri Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, in Columbia, Mo. With the kick, Fuller became the first female to play in a Southeastern Conference football game. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

The Big Game 2021

(CBS) — Vanderbilt women’s soccer player Sarah Fuller made history Saturday as the first woman to play in a Power 5 Conference college football game, according to Vanderbilt Athletics. Fuller kicked off at the start of the second half of Saturday’s game against Missouri as the crowd cheered.

Her kick was recovered by Missouri at its 35-yard line, according to CBS Sports.

The Power 5 includes the biggest athletic conferences, such as the SEC, the ACC, the Big Ten Conference, the Big 12 Conference and the Pac-12 Conference.

The senior goalkeeper was recruited as kicker after part of the Vanderbilt football team had to quarantine due to COVID-19 testing, according to the school. Head football coach Derek Mason told ESPN Fuller “is an option for us.” He added, “she’s got a strong leg. We’ll see what that yields.”

Fuller told Vanderbilt University the opportunity to help the team would be “an honor.”

“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. “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.”

Acclimations flooded in for support of Fuller taking the field. The Tennessee Titans tweeted “It’s your time, Sarah Fuller.”

Jen Welter, the first female coach in the NFL tweeted “Yes: females can play football. Yes: females do play football. Yes: females have been tackled by men before & been fine…Been there. Done it.”

During the game, Fuller plans on wearing the message “Play Like A Girl” on the back of her helmet, an acknowledgment to the nonprofit that encourages girls to play sports and get exposure to STEM opportunities.

Fuller will join an elite group of female athletes who have played in the Football Bowl Subdivision, including kickers Katie Hnida for New Mexico and April Goss for Kent State.

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