Sarah Fuller, the kicker for Vanderbilt, says she plans to stay with the football team for as long as she has it, even after the other kicks on the list clear the corona virus protocol and return to practice.
On Saturday, Fuller became the first woman to play on the Power 5 football team when she set off to open the second half against Missouri. One of the leading goalkeepers of Vanderbilt’s football team, Fuller, said during a Zoom call on Sunday that he had made him continue to play in the game.
“I want to know more, so if these guys come out of quarantine, I’d love to learn from them and their experiences,” Fuller said. “I had a lot of fun with this. It’s a challenge for me, but I know I can do it. It’s applicable from goal kick to field kick, so I want to learn more, and if these guys can help me, I’m by it for everything.”
Fuller said he plans to attend the meetings on Sunday, adding, “I’ll keep until someone tells me to go.”
Vanderbilt player Derek Mason – who was fired as coach on Sunday – said: “If he wants to kick and is available, we’d be happy for him.” Fuller also said that Vanderbilt special team coach Devin Fitzsimmons approached him after the game and told him, “We’d love to be here.”
Fuller was added to the team on Monday after the Commodores lost their experts due to a coronavirus test and needed a kick. And the team’s experience on Saturday went beyond handling starting tasks. With Vanderbilt 21-0 behind at half-time, Fuller decided he wanted to address the team.
“To be honest, I was a little angry at how quiet everyone is on the sidelines,” she said. “We went down first, and only I was cheering and I was like – what the hell? What’s going on? And I tried to pump them up.”
He said he compared Vanderbilt to football’s SEC tournament-winning race when the team was “cheering all the time”.
“I just went in there and told you exactly what I was thinking. I was like, ‘We have to make each other happy.’ This is how you win games. This is how you get better by calling things one after the other. and I call you guys. We need to support each other. We need to lift each other up. That’s what a team is about, ”Fuller said.“ I think that team struggled, and that was part of it.
“In fact, we just need to build a team friendship where we can all rely on each other. It was an adjustment stemming from the team mentality where – hey, we all support each other here – and I just wanted to bring that to this team.”
Then Fuller said coaches came up to him and said, “I’ve been wanting to say this for a while now.” And you guys came to me. I hope I got their respect. He was not ill-intentioned at all. I just want this team to succeed and perform well. “
Fuller said he hasn’t been able to keep up with congratulatory texts and notifications on his phone since Saturday. Especially when he blew it down when LeBron James and Hope Solo tweeted about it. While flipping through social media, he couldn’t, but didn’t see some of the criticism directing his way, especially those who questioned why Vanderbilt would turn to a woman to kick.
“I’ve tried not to look at the comments, but it’s hard sometimes not to see them when they talk about crap, and I’m just like what you’re doing at this point?” he said. “I’m a DI footballer, I’m going to Vanderbilt University, I’m going to get my degree from here, I’ve done amazing things I’ve decided and so they can talk about anything they want. It’s something I think I’ve been looking for and I’ve been in the right place , so yes, I accept hatred. “
Fuller continues to plan to move to North Texas to earn a master’s degree in hospital administration and play for the last two years on the women’s soccer team. (North Texas football didn’t turn to him for the kick.) But before he can think too far, Vanderbilt is still scheduled to play Georgia No. 9 on Saturday.
Maybe Fuller will get another chance.
“I sent a message to Fitz this morning. He was talking to me when we got on the plane last night and it said, ‘Listen, there’s a lot of power in your leg and we need to learn how to maximize that power.’ Fuller said. “I asked him for a movie of NFL players kicking like me because I want to get the right approach and really maximize that power because I have a big leg.”