American football is a sport dripping with machismo and an almost animalistic appetite for causing as much damage to your opposition as possible in the pursuit of victory.
Outdated sensitivities would have you believe that such a battleground is only a place for men, but women have continued to smash boundaries in sport, and the latest to do exactly that is Sarah Fuller.
Fuller, a goalkeeper on Vanderbilt College’s women’s soccer team, was drafted into the football roster as well to act as their deputy kicker. She got her first chance to suit up in the SEC game against Missouri on November 28, in the process becoming the first woman to participate in a Power 5 game.
“I just want to tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to, you really can. And if you have that mentality all the way through, you can do big things.”
Sarah Fuller is an inspiration 🙌 pic.twitter.com/rUi1hJYap9
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 28, 2020
Fuller got to make the kick-off punt for her team, but sadly such has been Vanderbilt’s below-par performances this term that was pretty much the extent of her activity in the contest. They went on to lose this game 0-41.
But, nevertheless, history was well and truly made, and you wonder if the 21-year-old has opened the door for more female football players to take their place in the male side of the game as a kicker or even an outfield star. She wore a sticker – Play Like a Girl – on the back of her helmet.
“I just want to tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to, you really can. And if you have that mentality all the way through, you can do big things,” Fuller said triumphantly afterwards.
Two other young women have played football to FBS level – April Goss of Kent State and Katie Hnida of New Mexico, but this is the first time that a woman has suited up in the Power 5, and Sarah Fuller will always know she is a true history-maker.
Vanderbilt Eastbound and Down
The only slight blemish on Fuller’s day would have been another abject performance from Vanderbilt.
That 0-48 demolition leaves them with a wretched 0-8 record in the Southeastern Conference, and it was perhaps no surprise that head coach Derek Mason was fired from his role in the immediate aftermath of the defeat.
He is a history-making figure in his own right with the Commodores, leading them to two Bowl games in his tenure at the college, but 2020 has proven to be a step too far, and now Vanderbilt will be seeking new energy to take them into the rest of the campaign.
Florida #Gators head coaches through their first 33 games.
Steve Spurrier: 27-6
Urban Meyer: 27-6
Dan Mullen: 27-6
No UF coach has ever started 28-6.
— OnlyGators.com 🐊 Florida Gators news (@onlygators) November 21, 2020
Their hopes of progressing in the East Division look to be all but at an end; however, this is a tough section, and it is noticeable that the Florida Gators and, to a lesser extent, the Georgia Bulldogs are so highly respected in the American football odds for the NCAAF. Indeed, at the time of writing the Gators were +1400 to add a fourth national championship to their collection.
The favorites remain the Alabama Crimson Tide, who are currently 8-0 in the West Division, and if they were to lock horns with the Gators further down the line that would be a clash for the ages.
As for Vanderbilt, their highlight of 2020 will be making history for altogether different – but incredibly respectable – reasons.