The SEC named soccer goalkeeper and fill-in Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller the special teams “player of the week,” an honor she’s sharing with Kadarius Toney from the University of Florida.
Fuller, who started practicing with the men’s football team only Tuesday, kicked a 30-yard so-called “squib kick” to start off the second half of Saturday’s game against Missouri. Vanderbilt lost the game 41 to zero.
“Fuller made history Saturday, becoming the first woman ever to officially take the field during a football game in a major conference football game,” the SEC said Monday, announcing Fuller’s accolade.
“She took the opening kickoff of the second half against the Tigers, as her perfectly-executed kick sailed 30 yards and was downed at the Missouri 35-yard line,” the announcement continued. “She joined the likes of New Mexico’s Katie Hnida and Kent State’s April Goss as the only females to appear in a Football Bowl Subdivision contest.”
A goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team at the school, Fuller was tapped to kick on Saturday for the men’s football team after Pierson Cooke and Wes Farley were unable to play.
“You can look at the roster and see who wasn’t here today and have a pretty good idea of what transpired,” said Vanderbilt Coach Derek Mason said. “What I can tell you is we did look at our roster. We looked at guys that were available who had kicked before. … Nobody who had as much experience at practice or the natural capability of Sarah. Whether it was kicking off or whether it was field goals, she happened to be our best option today.”
— Vanderbilt Football (@VandyFootball) November 30, 2020
As noted by The Daily Wire and emphasized by her “player of the week” nod, Fuller was quickly hailed as a hero by the mainstream media for her Saturday appearance on the football field.
Following the game, Fuller spoke to ESPN reporter Courtney Cronin about her experience, detailing her halftime time speech and her frustration with the other players for not “cheering” their teammates on enough.
“If I’m going to be honest, I was a little pissed off at how quiet everybody was on the sideline,” Fuller told Cronin via a Zoom call, Outkick reported. “We made a first down, and I was the only one cheering and I was like – what the heck? What’s going on? And I tried to get them pumped up, and I was like, ‘You guys need to start [cheering] your team on.’”
“My main thing was during the SEC tournament, my entire team was cheering the entire time,” she continued. “It didn’t matter if we were in the locker room or if they were on the sidelines, I think that’s what won it for us. Everybody was cheering non-stop.”
“I just went in there, and I said exactly what I was thinking,” Fuller explained. “I was like, ‘We need to be cheering each other on. This is how you win games. This is how you get better, by calling each other out for stuff, and I’m going to call you guys out.’”
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