One kick. Two points. That’s all it took for Sarah Fuller to make history. In a Power 5 football game on Dec. 12, Vanderbilt University lost to the University of Tennessee, yet everyone was talking about Vanderbilt, not Tennessee.
Fuller, a goalkeeper on Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team, had played as their kicker for that game when some of the players were out due to COVID-19 protocols.
She was celebrated for scoring two extra points, but she was idolized for scoring those points in a male-dominated sport. She instantly garnered national attention for what she had accomplished.
There have only been a handful of women who have broken through the barriers of men’s sports, but this one seems extra special.
It came at a time when people were so emotionally drained from staying home, wearing masks and not being able to visit their families. Plus, they were exhausted from all the other stressors that the year 2020 had brought – the wildfires, the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and so many others, economic struggles and an insane election.
Fuller’s accomplishment gave people the slightest bit of hope. It made them optimistic knowing that things could still get better in one way or another. Women have struggled for decades to be seen as equal to men. To this day, people throw around sexist comments about a woman’s place in society, there is unfair pay and poor treatment in the workplace and the sports world is barely letting them in.
Fuller made a difference in tons of women’s lives with just one kick, not to mention the impact she will have on little girls everywhere, especially in terms of athletics.
When I was a kid, I would watch football games with my dad and think, why are they running right into the middle of the pack? I could do better than that. I can kick, I can catch and I’m fast. Why can’t I play football?
I had all these skills because I played soccer growing up and sometimes goalkeeper, just like Fuller. But it never even crossed my mind that it would actually be possible to play in a football game as a girl. Football just wasn’t for girls.
When they tried to replicate it with powderpuff or flag football, it was exciting but demeaning at the same time. I think girls can handle tackles just as much as boys, maybe even more so.
Sure, guys are biologically built differently, but if there were a league for girls, all the athletes would be on the same playing field, literally. It just doesn’t make sense to me that they’ll let girls do boxing and wrestling, but the door to football is still closed.
Even though Fuller was just a kicker, she cracked open the door at least a little bit and I expect more and more changes to come in this area. I know it will be a drastically slow process, but sometime in the future, women may have a football league of our very own.