The phrase “Play like a Girl” is finally seeing the light. Well, at least the light that hits the back of a helmet. Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller is the first woman ever to play in the Power 5 Conference. While this is undoubtedly something to celebrate, we must acknowledge the additional obstacles that always seem to be placed in front of girls, especially those trying to enter male-dominated fields.
Fuller wasn’t even originally set to be a kicker for her school’s football team. She’s the goalkeeper for Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team, and was presented this opportunity only when many of the football players were placed under quarantine. For once, COVID-19 led to something truly positive.
Support poured in on an international scale when the news broke of the university’s plan. Fuller admitted to initially being overwhelmed and having to turn her phone off to keep focused.
Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wetzel writes, “Sarah Fuller is not going to play in the NFL. That didn’t mean the NFL, and the football industry that surrounds it, wasn’t watching.” There are many different jobs in sports beyond the players. But the discrimination reaches into the office positions as well. Wetzel notes that “some women have broken through in recent years. And from the small but growing assistant coaching ranks, to league executives, agents, referees, marketers and so on.” Fuller’s kick was a sign that these immense efforts within the industry were paying off. Hopefully encouraging more women to consider a career in the field.
The newfound celebrity acknowledges how monumental this simple kick was. “All I want to do is be a good influence to the young girls out there because there were times I struggled in sports, but I’m so thankful that I stuck with it and it’s given me so many opportunities and I’ve met so many amazing people through sports,” Fuller told the press at a conference in Missouri. “And I just want to say that literally you can do anything you set your mind to.”
The team plans to continue practicing and playing with Fuller who is now listed on the roster, which we can only hope, holds more places for girls in the future.