© 2022 WYSO
Our Community. Our Nation. Our World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Sarah Fuller Makes History As 1st Woman To Play In A Power 5 Football Game

Sarah Fuller of the Vanderbilt Commodores kicks off in the second half against the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium on Saturday in Columbia, Mo.
Hunter Dyke
Mizzou Athletics via Getty Images
Sarah Fuller of the Vanderbilt Commodores kicks off in the second half against the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium on Saturday in Columbia, Mo.

Sarah Fuller has made history as the first woman to ever play in a Power 5 college football game.

The Vanderbilt University senior made her historic debut as a kicker for the Vanderbilt Commodores in their face-off against the University of Missouri Tigers on Saturday. She kicked off for the Commodores to start the second half. The play makes her the first woman to see game-time action in a Power 5 football game.

The Power 5 consists of the biggest and most popular athletic conferences, including the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference and Pac-12 Conference.

Fuller joined the football team's roster after practicing with them earlier this week, the Vanderbilt Hustlerreports. The decision to add her to the ranks reportedly came after several team specialists entered quarantines related to COVID-19.

Although it was her first time playing for the football team, Fuller is no stranger to Vanderbilt sports. The Wylie, Texas, native made her first start as the goalkeeper for the Vanderbilt women's soccer team on Oct. 11. Last Sunday, she made three saves in a game against the University of Arkansas that won her team the SEC Tournament Championship title — their first since 1994.

Fuller's historic kickoff in the third quarter of Saturday's game sent the ball 30 yards to the opposing team's 35-yard line. Missouri did not return the kick.

Fuller is just the third woman to play in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, after Katie Hnida of New Mexico and April Goss of Kent State, according to ESPN. Liz Heaston was the first woman ever to play — and score — in a college football game, kicking two extra points that helped lead Willamette University to victory against Linfield College on Oct. 18, 1997.

In a Twitter post Friday night, Fuller made clear that she knew she was breaking barriers, writing "Let's Make History."

In another nod to breaking barriers, her helmet during Saturday's game had "Play Like a Girl" written on the back. Play Like A Girl is a nonprofit that encourages girls to participate in STEM and sports.

Several Twitter users said they had tuned in to Saturday's game just to watch Fuller make history.

Fuller also received support from the American tennis player Billie Jean King, who wrote in a Twitter post that "women belong in the game."

King made headlines in 1973 when she defeated the former men's tennis champion Bobby Riggs in the match billed as the "Battle of the Sexes."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lydia Massey