As college football teams continue to gingerly crawl their way through an unprecedented 2020, Vanderbilt has decided to distinguish itself ahead of tomorrow’s scheduled encounter against the University of Missouri. The Commodores football team has turned to starting women’s soccer goalie Sarah Fuller to suit up for Vanderbilt tomorrow, fresh off securing an SEC championship in just five days ago, the program’s first since 1994.
Fuller could become the first woman in college football history to play in a Power 5 Conference game if her number is called. In a story published on the athletic department’s website, she discussed what even getting to this point means for her in a historical context.
“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. 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 … It’s an honor they called on me to be able to do this and help them out.”
Vanderbilt associate soccer head coach Ken Masuhr called Fuller shortly after the SEC title-clinching win and asked her about kicking for the football team. She even attempted (and converted) a number of field goals shortly thereafter.
“I made the first one and I kept making them,” Fuller told Vanderbilt. “It sounds really good to me. It’s different than a soccer ball, but it felt good.”
Unfortunately, Vanderbilt football is still 0-7 and searching for its first win of the season. But Fuller’s presence could be a catalyst for women taking part in more football games.
The first woman ever to play in a college football game was Liz Heaton, who kicked two extra points for NAIA program Willamette University on October 18. 1997.
Since then, there have been six other women to kick in college football games, including two at the Division I FBS level: Katie Hnida of New Mexico in 2003, and April Goss for Kent State in 2015.
It’s been a landmark week for Fuller, and positive news in a year where that’s been difficult to discover.