Yesterday was a big day for women. For feminists. For athletes. For everyone.
Yesterday was the first time a woman has ever played in a Power 5 football game. And, of course, Sarah Fuller wore the words “Play Like A Girl” on her helmet. Probably because she wanted my heart to grow even bigger with pride.
Fuller isn’t even a football player either! Sarah tends nets for Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team, and her nickname on that team is Champ. This is probably because she’s won two SEC titles so far. In fact, just last week she and her soccer team won the Southeastern Conference Tournament. During yesterday’s game, Fuller wore number 32, which is her soccer number, and it seems to have brought her luck – although not luck for the whole team, it seems.
After halftime, coach Derek Mason sent her in. Fuller kicked off a holder, not a tee, but the unsuccessful Commodores watched the Missouri Bears pounce on it. She didn’t get a chance for a field goal or anything else, but what she did do, Sarah Fuller did damn well.
After the game, Sarah had some things to say.
“I just wanna tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to, like you really can. And if you have that mentality all the way through, you can do big things.”
Other women who have made football history include Liz Heaston (the first woman to play and score in college football, 1997), Ashley Martin (the first woman to play and score in an NCAA Division 1 game, 2001), and Katie Hnida (the first woman to score in an NCAA Division 1-A game, 2003). They have all made monumental contributions towards leveling the playing field for women in sports, and now Fuller has joined their ranks. Their names will be forever linked in history.
Of course, other great females shouted out to this great female as she rocked the field yesterday. Jen Lada from ESPN tweeted a shoutout to Sarah Fuller and said she even watched today’s Vanderbilt game via Zoom with Katie Hnida and April Goss (the second woman to score in a Division 1-A game).
Other strong women supporting Fuller yesterday include Dawn Staley, Mia Hamm, Sue Bird, Megan Rapinoe, and even Billie Jean King. Yes, you read that right. BILLIE JEAN FREAKING KING.
Before the game yesterday afternoon, the Vanderbilt Football Twitter account tweeted, “HERstory in the making.” I don’t know about you, but I kind of want to cry after reading that.
It was Covid-related complications that prompted the call from head coach Derek Mason to Vanderbilt’s soccer team in the first place. It seems there may indeed be a benefit to this damn pandemic.
For more thoughts and opinions from Melanie, check out her author page.
(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)