Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller becomes first woman to play in Power Five football game

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Vanderbilt soccer goalkeeper Sarah Fuller made history Saturday, becoming the first woman to participate in a Power Five conference football game when she kicked off for Vanderbilt to start the second half at Missouri.

The 6-foot-2 Fuller kicked with a holder rather than using a tee on a designed squib kick, and the senior sent a low kick to the 35-yard line where it was pounced on by Missouri’s Mason Pack. Fuller didn’t get any other opportunities in Vanderbilt’s 41-0 loss.

“I just think it’s incredible that I am able to do this, and all I want to do is be a good influence to the young girls out there because there were times I struggled in sports,” Fuller said. “But I am so thankful I stuck with it, and it’s given me so many opportunities. I’ve met so many amazing people through sports, and I just want to say like literally you can do anything you set your mind to.”

Coach Derek Mason made clear that Fuller kicked for the Commodores due to need, not for history or publicity, and earned her place. COVID-19 restrictions left Mason with very few options, prompting him to reach out to the soccer team for help.

“I’m not about making statements,” Mason said. “This was out of necessity. … That just happened to be the most viable option.”

Vanderbilt (0-8) visits No. 13 Georgia next week.

“If she wants to kick and she’s available, we’d love to have her,” Mason said.

After her kick, Fuller went straight to the sideline, where she high-fived some of her new teammates and swapped some elbow bumps. Fuller’s parents watched and cheered from the stands along with her boyfriend and best friend.

Fuller practiced with the football team during the week after helping the Commodores win the SEC women’s soccer tournament last weekend. Fuller said her longest field goal in practice was 38 yards.

Before Saturday, four other women had appeared in a college football game at lower levels, beginning with Liz Heaston, who kicked two extra points for Willamette in an NAIA game in 1997.