With her “Play Like a Girl” sticker in plain sight, Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a Power 5 football game.
The 21-year-old broke through this barrier for women when she played in the Vanderbilt versus Missouri game Nov. 28., performing the second half’s kickoff.
According to ESPN, Fuller became a member of the team shortly after Vanderbilt lost to the University of Florida Nov. 21. The publication states coach Derek Mason’s staff reached out to Fuller asking if she would try out.
At the time, ESPN states the team was missing members because of COVID-19 results.
Fuller made Vanderbilt’s team as a kicker.
“I just want to tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to, you really can,” Fuller said in an interview.
Football isn’t the only sport Fuller plays. She is also a part of Vanderbilt’s soccer team, serving as the goalkeeper.
Fuller’s accomplishment has inspired women of all ages.
Katie Colman, a 19-year-old chemical engineering sophomore, said Fuller embodies female empowerment. Fuller’s ability to play during a Power 5 football game proves women can do whatever they put their minds to, Colman said.
As a woman in STEM, Colman said she understands what Fuller experienced breaking through these boundaries.
“Football is very masculine, like only guys can do it, and I think there’s a lot of aspects in the world like that,” Colman said. “It just shows that there’s room for growth for women in all different areas.”
Although Fuller received a lot of positive feedback, social media users left negative comments on the athlete’s Instagram. These statements criticized Fuller’s kick during the game and expressed she shouldn’t be allowed to play for a men’s team, among other things.
Blinne Buckley, a 19-year-old finance sophomore, said she was shocked to read some of the pushback Fuller received after the football game.
“I saw Tweets saying, ‘They should tackle her,’ and other stuff like that,” Buckley said. “It’s just terrible the amount of pushback she has to face on a day-to-day basis just to play a game.”
Buckley said she believes some of this response to Fuller’s accomplishment is based in jealousy. Despite the negative feedback, Buckley thinks Fuller will become a role model for young girls and women everywhere, she said.
“I think there’s going to be more women thinking that they can do it,” Buckley said. “I think there’s going to be more people working harder and pushing to do it for themselves.”