One story utterly dominated the sports world Saturday: A goalie for the Vanderbilt University women’s soccer team joined the school’s football team as its placekicker after specialists on the squad were out with COVID-19.
Factually speaking, Sarah Fuller made history when she stepped on the field against Missouri to start the second half, becoming the first woman to play in a Power 5 football game. The Southeastern Conference called her kickoff “perfectly-executed” noting that it “sailed 30 yards and was downed at the Missouri 35-yard line.”
Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller Becomes First Woman To Play In Power Five Football Game
But everything else surrounding her stint with the football team, according to a number of sports commentators, seemed just a tad over the top.
What are the details?
For starters, Fuller actually blasted her brand-new teammates in a halftime speech. Now, it’s not uncommon for players to get vocal with each other in the locker room when the chips are down — but a player who just joined the team? And given that kickers’ workloads are quite light, typically they’re the last players who will rip into teammates covered in mud, blood, and sweat.
But Fuller told reporters that’s just what she did.
“I just went in there, and I said exactly what I was thinking,” Fuller recalled, according to ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. “I was like, ‘We need to be cheering each other on. This is how you win games. This is how you get better is by calling each other out for stuff, and I’m going to call you guys out. We need to be supporting one another.'”
Fuller added that she “was a little pissed off at how quiet everybody was on the sideline. We made a first down, and I was the only one cheering, and I was like, ‘What the heck? What’s going on?’ And I tried to get them pumped up.”
I just got off a Zoom call with Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller, who detailed the halftime speech she gave and the r… https://t.co/vBUh74szRf
— Courtney Cronin (@Courtney Cronin)1606671547.0
And believe it or not, Fuller said after her speech she “had coaches come up to me and say, ‘I’ve been wanting to say that for awhile now.'” Vanderbilt lost the game 41-0.
Oh, and after her single kickoff, Fuller was named the SEC’s co-special teams player of the week.
Fuller’s effort reportedly was compared to Jackie Robinson
And a number of folks just couldn’t get enough of the growing legend surrounding Fuller.
Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller on becoming the first woman to play in Power 5 game | SportsCenter
Alex Scarborough, also with ESPN, penned a feature article totaling more than 2,000 words on Fuller.
Nashville-based radio commentator Chad Withrow said that a fellow local host likened Fuller’s efforts to Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier.
“I’m thinking, ‘Are you kidding me?'” Withrow told Outkick’s Clay Travis on Monday. “I mean the insanity of some of this drives me crazy.”
Broadcasters Compare Sarah Fuller To Greats Like JACKIE ROBINSON- Clay And Chad Are NOT Ok With It!
Travis — a Vanderbilt alum — has been following the story closely and suggested that the whole thing may have been a publicity stunt pulled off by head coach Derek Mason to save his job. (If so, it apparently didn’t work; Mason was fired the day after Fuller’s game, having tallied an 0-8 season.)
Fuller is well aware of the negativity pointed at her.
“I’ve been trying not to look at the comments, but it’s hard not to see them sometimes when they’re talking crap about you, and I’m just like, at this point, what are you doing?” she told ESPN in a separate story. “I am a D-I soccer player, I go to Vanderbilt University, I am going to get my degree from here, I’ve done amazing things I’ve set out to do, and so they can talk crap all they want. This is something I believe I’ve earned, and I was at the right place at the right time, so yeah, I’ll take on the hate.”
Fuller also said she wants to keep playing for Vanderbilt’s football team, even if other specialists return to the squad.