Sarah Fuller Teaches the World How To ‘Play Like a Girl’

Kiersten Warren, STUDENT LIFE EDITOR

They say the future is female. In a world full of trailblazing women and girls in politics, schools, and job industries across the country, another glass ceiling has been broken. The shattered glass ceiling that’s kept so many deserving women out of the conversation, particularly in sports, has been broken by a young woman that goes by the name of Sarah Fuller. 

Sarah Fuller made history in November when she became the first woman to play during a regular season game in the Power 5 conference of college football. Fuller played as the kicker for the Vanderbilt football team, but to the surprise of many as her attendance wasn’t planned. Like everything else in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Vanderbilt’s kicking squad, all of which were ruled out due to a mini-outbreak on the team. As a result, Sarah was given the important task. 

Fuller plays as the starting goalkeeper for Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team and is a senior at the renowned university. Senior Bradi Stewart says, “Being a soccer player myself, I couldn’t imagine being called into play for a football game. I respect the fact that she’s breaking barriers for girls in sports, one kick at a time.” She was expecting to go back to her hometown for Thanksgiving, but to her surprise, her coach called her with the opportunity to kick for the football team, and the rest was history. 

For her NFL debut, Sarah wore number 32, and on her helmet read the phrase, ‘Play Like a Girl.’ Her parents watched from the stands with awe at their daughter, wearing handmade ‘Play Like a Girl’ masks given to them by Sarah’s friends. Fuller also didn’t hesitate to use her unique opportunity to motivate her temporary teammates. When Vanderbilt was losing the game to Missouri at halftime 21-0, she gave the team a pep talk, hoping to increase energy, while keeping herself calm during the game. 

Vanderbilt football coach, Derek Mason, is impressed with Sarah’s willingness to play, especially on such short notice. He, and other members of the team, noticed that she had prepared prior to the game, and if she hadn’t already, impressed the crowd with her commitment. Junior Alexis Galletta says, “Being a woman in sports is already a challenge in itself, because of the constant need to prove you belong. I am so happy that another barrier was broken down, and to finally hear something good come out of this crazy year.” Sarah opened the second half with a designed play, a low kick that bounced to the 35 yard line. 

Regardless of the game’s outcome, Sarah Fuller’s name will forever be remembered in a long list of women who broke barriers to get to where they are today. Little by little, these barriers are disappearing, as we see more female coaches, owners, sports hosts, and now players. It’s amazing to see women continue to forge the path for the future, in a year as crazy as 2020.