Fuller Makes History With Kickoff

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    It was a typical scene.

    Vanderbilt, down big, kicking off to start the second half. 11 players lined up for Missouri to receive the kick, and 11 players lined up for Vanderbilt.

    The kick? Nothing special. It was a designed squib. Missouri fell on it at the 35 and moved their offense onto the field.

    But the stadium didn’t regard it as a normal occurrence. Neither did the announcers. In fact, there was a standing ovation.

    Why? Because the kick marked the beginning of a new era of college football.

    Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller, wearing the number 32, became the first woman to appear in a Power 5 football game.

    Sarah Fuller taking practice kicks ahead of Vanderbilt’s contest against Missouri. (Hustler Multimedia/Truman McDaniel)

    Fuller, the Vanderbilt Women’s Soccer team’s starting goaltender, had just helped lead the Commodores to their first SEC soccer title since 1994. She was called upon by Vanderbilt (football) Head Coach Derek Mason after Vanderbilt kickers left much to be desired.

    “I represent the little girls out there who wanted to do this or have thought about playing football or any sport, really,” Fuller said after the game. “I just want to tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to, you really can. If you have that mentality all the way through, you can do big things.”

    Fuller wore a helmet decal that said ‘Play Like A Girl,’ a nod to the nonprofit of the same name that aims to expose girls to more opportunities in sports and in STEM-related educational and professional fields.

    Was Fuller worried? Not a bit.

    “Honestly, I was just really calm. The SEC championship was more stressful,” she said, attempting to contain her excitement. “But I was very excited to step out on the field and do my thing.”

    Vanderbilt lost, 41-0. But history had been made.

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