Sarah Fuller made history on Saturday afternoon when she became the first woman to play in a Power Five conference football game.
Vanderbilt installed her as a kicker after the team’s other kickers were deemed unavailable due to COVID-19.
Sarah Fuller kicks off the second half for Vanderbilt. pic.twitter.com/FvTc7HdVWm
— Jordan Dajani (@JordanDajani) November 28, 2020
Vanderbilt ultimately lost to Missouri 41-0, falling to 0-8 on the year. The team’s head coach, Derek Mason, was fired one day later.
Shortly after making her big debut, Fuller did an interview with Courtney Cronin of ESPN. Among the interesting tidbits that emerged from their conversation was how Fuller got angry at her teammates at halftime.
Truly special. https://t.co/vwbPwzY73j
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 29, 2020
“If I’m going to be honest, I was a little pissed off at how quiet everybody was on the sideline,” Fuller told Cronin. “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, and I was like, ‘You guys need to start [cheering] your team on.’
“My main thing was during the SEC tournament, my entire team was cheering the entire time. It didn’t matter if we were in the locker room or if they were on the sidelines, I think that’s what won it for us. Everybody was cheering non-stop. I just went in there, and I said exactly what I was thinking. I was like, ‘We need to be cheering each other on. This is how you win games. This is how you get better by calling each other out for stuff, and I’m going to call you guys out.’
“We need to be supporting one another. If we get a first down, if an interception happens, it’s our fault. We need to be lifting each other up. That’s what a team’s about. I think this team has struggled, and that’s been part of it,” she continued.
“We really just need to build that team camaraderie where they can all lean on one another. It was an adjustment going from that team mentality where – hey, we’re all here supporting one another, and I just wanted to bring that to this team.”
The lesson here: actions have consequences. https://t.co/aVhdqhCxfN
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 27, 2020
Fuller says she hopes that her speech ultimately helped her gain her teammates’ respect.
“I hope I gained their respect,” she said. “It wasn’t ill-intentioned at all, I just want this team to succeed and do well. I’m a Vanderbilt student-athlete. I want all our sports to succeed. I call it how I see it, and I’m not going to BS anybody. Didn’t want to BS them.”
It remains to be seen if Vanderbilt’s next football coach ultimately permits Fuller to serve as the team’s kicker as well.