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Vanderbilt Fields Power 5's First Female Football Player

Jason Scott

Vanderbilt University women’s soccer goalkeeper Sarah Fuller got a first-of-its-kind assignment on Saturday when she became the first woman to play in a Power 5 Conference football game.

Fuller, a senior, reportedly suited up with the football team during its practice on Tuesday, prior to a matchup with Missouri. While she didn’t take any kicks, she did participate in walk-throughs with coaches and at least one other special teamer on the sidelines. In a radio interview, head coach Derek Mason confirmed that Fuller could see the field.

“Right now, we’re just looking at all options,” Mason said in a radio interview before the game. “For us, talking to Sarah, she’s a champ, and no pun intended. Just coming off an SEC Championship in soccer… She’s a complete competitor. She’s an option for us. Right now, that’s where we sit.”

Fuller started in goal for the SEC Tournament-title winning women’s soccer team this season.

COVID-19 protocols have many members of the Commodore football team in quarantine, necessitating the need to bring in additional kicking help. Vanderbilt is just 3-7 on the season in field goals, but sources told The Hustler that Fuller’s participation in practice was not based on lacking performance from the team’s kickers.

Fuller made history Saturday, when she executed a successful squib kick to begin the second half of the Missouri game. Mason said afterwards that coaches had asked Fuller to squib the kick because of her experience with low kicks gained while playing soccer.

"I just think it's incredible I am able to do this, and all I want to do is be a good influence to the young girls out there," Fuller said after the game.

Fuller’s history-making appearance was one of the few highlights for Vanderbilt during the game, a 41-0 loss. It proved to be Mason’s final game coaching the Commodores, as he was fired on Sunday. 

In a farewell announcement posted on Twitter, Mason said “It has truly been my honor to have been given the opportunity to teach, mentor, champion and coach hundreds of Vanderbilt young men and one courageous female.” 

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