Today, I am breaking form and only featuring one card. Sarah Fuller deserves the entire spotlight.
Sarah is the starting goal keeper for the Vanderbilt soccer team. When COVID struck the Vanderbilt football team, a kicker was needed. The Vanderbilt coach reached out to Fuller to fill the void.
Fuller made history when she kicked off to start the second half of the next game. That was the only kicking opportunity, as Vanderbilt was shutout. The next week, Fuller was kicking again and connected on an extra point, along with handlng the kickoff duties.
I wrote more in depth about Fuller's march into history at But They're Girls for Global Women's Sports Radio. At the time of that story, she had only kicked off. My point was it was still a small step in the right direction. Small steps by women lead to larger steps in the future.
Most people liked the piece and my angle. Some did not. Some immediately mocked her short kickoff. Others questioned what would happen if she got crushed by a defender. Still others said it was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
While her first kickoff was a bit short, perhaps we could cut her slack based on the pressure and the fact it was her first time ever in a men's NCAA football game. She didn't whiff or muff it. It was just a bit short. I'm quite sure she is capable of kicking it farther. In fact, it is said that she kicked 50 yard field goals in practice.
As far as her being tackled, most kickers would have a hard time absorbing a bone-crushing tackle, but how often does that even come into play? If that is the biggest concern, there should be no problem.
Was it a publicity stunt? Was Ann Meyers trying out with the Indiana Pacers a publicity stunt? Was the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs a publicity stunt? Maybe. Probably. Yet still, many years later, we remember those incidents.
Maybe a "publicity stunt" like this will have a similar longer term impact. Maybe some young girl out there watching thinks differently about her own future. Maybe the next young woman who has ability can get a shot at whatever.
Will a woman ever play middle linebacker in the NFL? That is doubtful, but 50 years ago, people would have said that about a female goalie, and yet there came Manon Rheaume. Also, with the increasing concerns over concussions in the NFL, who knows what rule changes will occur. In 50 years, we might not even recognize the game.
In the end, all that really matters is Fuller stepped up and did something no other woman ever did. If it ends right there, it is still an accomplishment. Sometimes, we don't need to look for the next step. In the end, we should just applaud Fuller and the Vanderbilt program.
The Tennessee Titans honored Fuller and we should all follow suit. I am doing my small part in giving Fuller a Celebrity Jersey Card.
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