Vanderbilt's Sarah Fuller Makes History as First Woman to Play in Power 5 College Football Game

Maria Pasquini
·4-min read

Sarah Fuller made history with a single kick!

On Saturday, the Vanderbilt kicker became the first woman to play in a Power 5 regular season college football game. Fuller kicked off the second half of the game against Missouri.

Let’s make history,” Fuller, a senior who recently helped lead the school’s soccer team to its first SEC Tournament title since 1994, wrote on social media ahead of the big day.

The photo, which featured the student-athlete in uniform, also highlighted the special “Play Like a Girl” sticker on the back of her helmet.

Although Fuller was initially supposed to go home for Thanksgiving, the goalkeeper changed her plans after getting a call to see if she would be interested in playing, since the football team was down a number of specialists due to contact tracing efforts.

“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 in an interview with Vanderbilt. “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.”

Only two women have played football at the Football Bowl Subdivision of the NCAA before, which is the highest level of collegiate football.

In 2003, University of New Mexico player Katie Hnida became the first woman to score at the FBS level, according to ESPN. Kicker April Goss of Kent State became the second woman to earn the distinction in 2015.

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Ahead of the game, head football coach Derek Mason opened up about Fuller’s fearless attitude on the field. “Sarah, her nickname is Champ,” he said. “For us, to be able to see her in practice, I think guys were impressed the first day she came out.”

“She was fearless, and she plays football the way she plays soccer,” he added.

Fuller’s parents were also on hand to cheer her on, joining a limited number of fans who were permitted to attend the day’s game.

The student-athlete also received some very special shout-outs before making her football debut.

“Regardless of what happens during this game, I am proud of @SarahFuller_27,” said Candice Storey Lee, who became the school’s first female athletic director earlier this year.

“When the staff told me she wanted to do this, I didn't think about history being made. I simply thought about how amazing it is to see these student-athletes step up for one another,” she added.

Billie Jean King also celebrated “football history” in the making.

“Good luck to @VanderbiltU’s Sarah Fuller, goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, who is dressing for their football team as its place-kicker,” she wrote on social media. “If she plays, she will be the 1st woman to do so in Power 5 football.”

Continuing, the tennis legend simply added, “Women belong in the game!”