Sarah Fuller Plays Like a Girl
What does it mean to “play like a girl?” On November 28, when Sarah Fuller kicked off to open the second half for Vanderbilt against Missouri, it meant to have the courage and confidence to accept a challenge and be fierce.
With her kick, Sarah became the first woman to play in a Power 5 football game, breaking barriers and smashing stereotypes at the game’s highest level. She took the field with a sticker on the back of her helmet which read, "Play Like a Girl,” supporting the non-profit that encourages girls to play sports and pursue careers in science, technology and math.
"The fact that I can represent all the girls out there that have wanted to do this or thought about playing football or any sport really, and it encourages them to be able to step out and do something big like this, it's awesome,” Fuller said after the game.
Football images courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics
Sarah is the third woman to participate in a Division I football game, following in the footsteps of Katie Hnida of New Mexico and April Goss of Kent State.
What made Sarah’s achievement so impressive is that one week earlier, she wasn’t even on the football team. Vanderbilt had several players quarantined for COVID-19 and the team needed a placekicker.
They turned for help to Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team, which won the SEC title on November 22 this year. Sarah is the lead goalkeeper on that championship team. She cancelled her trip home for Thanksgiving and agreed to try out. She was on the field in an hour. With true #fearlessgirl courage, she made the football team as its only kicker.
Sarah’s athletic career hasn’t always been easy despite her success on the field. In her freshman year, she broke her foot and had to sit out the soccer season. As a sophomore, she had a back injury. This summer, she had a stress fracture in her other foot. She began her senior season on the bench.
But she never gave up. She kept working to prove herself and became the starting goalkeeper four games into the season. She went on to make 28 saves with a league-best 0.97 goals-against average this season.
"All I want to do is be a good influence to the young girls out there because there were times I struggled in sports," she said, "but I'm so thankful that I stuck with it, and it's given me so many opportunities and I've met so many amazing people through sports, and I just want to say that literally you can do anything you set your mind to."
Like Sarah, who has a spirit worthy of our Fierce Necklace, we believe in supporting fearless girls like her who are breaking barriers with jewelry that empowers girls. The Fierce necklace, like all of our jewelry, funds Girl Up, a leadership development initiative founded by the United Nations Foundation that works to advance gender equity worldwide. The Fierce Necklace is an inspiring gift for every fearless female on your gift giving list this holiday season.
Sarah will graduate this year and begin studying for a master’s degree in hospital administration at the University of North Texas. She will continue playing soccer and also continue inspiring girls everywhere to have to the confidence to succeed and overcome every challenge they face.