Play like a girl

Maddie Morelli, Sports Editor

It’s been a big year for a lot of reasons. But, it has also been a big year for women in sports. 

Twenty-one  year-old Sarah Fuller usually plays goalkeeper for Vanderbilt University’s Women’s Soccer Team. The soccer team had in fact just won the Southeastern Conference Division 1 Championship. It was the first championship win since 1994. 

But, as the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted the way we live our lives, it has changed the way we play sports as well. Many teams have faced tough challenges, of players having to quarantine through contact tracing, or even having some catch the virus, resulting in teams losing quite a few players. And that’s been the case through all levels of sports – highschool to professional. So, when the Vanderbilt Commodores football team was left down a few men, they scrambled to find a kicker, and they did in fact find one: Sarah Fuller. 

Although there have been women playing in college games before, having Fuller kick was a historic moment. She was the first female to play in a major conference, or Power 5 football game (the Power 5 consists of: the ACC, SEC, PAC12, BIG10, and the BIG12). 

Fuller didn’t plan on doing this, in fact she was thrown into this position. She had practiced with the football team for less than a week. On November 28, she stepped onto the field to take on the University of Missouri along with her teammates. 

As expected, she received a lot of criticism, mostly within the internet. A lot of comments and Tweets trying to tear her down, and to lessen this historic moment. But that isn’t what should be focused on when talking about this event. It was historic, and was meaningful to many little girls in sports. It garnered attention and positivity from many female athletes, who gave Fuller words of encouragement, because they had been through the criticism before. 

Fuller continued her football career, serving as kicker for the Commodores on December 12, in their game against Tennessee. Fuller kicked an extra point, but the Commodores still fell to the Volunteers 42-17. 

However, it looks like Fuller’s football career has come to an end. Due to positive tests in Vanderbilt’s program, the Commodores game against Georgia has been postponed. 

In a statement put out on Twitter Fuller said, “It looks like my time as a football player has come to an end. I would like to personally thank the entire Vanderbilt football team, coaches, and support staff for this amazing opportunity to be a part of this program. I was accepted as an athlete and a true member of this program. This is an experience that I will never forget and will cherish forever. Good luck to the seniors and staff who are moving on to new adventures. My best wishes to the team as this program moves forward and continues to grow.”

Fuller is a senior, but will continue to goaltend for the upcoming NCAA tournaments in the spring. Seeing the world of sports constantly change and grow if refreshing, and hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more women in sports in the future.