Sarah Fuller breaks boundaries as Vanderbilt female football athlete

Sarah+Fuller+makes+history+on+the+Vanderbilt+football+team.

https://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/sarah-fuller-first-woman-mens-football-vanderbilt-1.5820120

Sarah Fuller makes history on the Vanderbilt football team.

For the first time in history, a female has made an appearance in the world of college football. Vanderbilt University will now be known as the first university to showcase a female athlete in a Division 1 football game. Vanderbilt’s Division 1 football program is a part of the South East Conference which consists of 14 colleges.  

On November 28th, Vanderbilt’s football team travelled to Columbia, Missouri, to the University of Missouri. Weeks leading up to this game, the team realized that none of their kickers were going to be able to compete in the upcoming game, due to numerous injuries. So, they decided to use a different athlete whose job was also to kick a ball 40-plus yards: the soccer goalie from the women’s soccer team. 

The goalie needs to be able to kick the soccer ball to at least the half-line which is extremely impressive. The football team then proceeded to ask Sarah Fuller, the women’s soccer goalie, if she would be willing to put down the soccer jersey and throw on the shoulder pads for one game.  

Fuller continued to practice with the football team for many weeks leading up to the game. When the time came, she suited up for the game and travelled to Missouri. Sarah playing in the game was not only a huge deal for the world of college football, but for the world of female athletes. This is a huge step forward for many female athletes across the globe, because it shows the potential for success for all females who strive to play sports outside of the stereotypical teams in which females would participate. 

It is without a doubt a big deal having a female play in a college football game, but not all forms of success are broadcasted on national television.  

Having females play on a team such as a high school football team is showcasing the potential of female athletes. It may be unknown to some, but The Webb Schools football team is known to have had female athletes in the past, and can proudly say that they have not one, but two females who are on the team for the 2020-2021 season. 

“I like to look at it like that player is faster or bigger than me, but not because they’re boys, I see them as players with different qualities, said Dora Csonge (‘21), one of the two female athletes on the football team. “When I tell someone that I play football they’re always so surprised, and that is when I feel the most that what I’m doing is special. 

Dora’s response can help others try understanding and seeing what it must be like for her to be playing a sport that is stereotypically for males. 

“Even though I’m not a punter, Sarah Fuller’s story gave me hope that maybe one day girls will be able to be on a college football team and play any positions they like,” Dora said.  

Just how Sarah’s story encouraged Dora as a football player herself, her story also encouraged female athletes across the country. Whether the athlete plays football or other sports, this event has inspired athletes and proven that anything is possible, given enough dedication.  

However, this event has also caused an uproar for some people. Sarah Fuller’s story was not all positive, as she had many people hating on her because they were not happy with this decision. Many forms of social media contributed to this sort of hate, for people were able to publicly share their own opinions. This type of hate is not unusual for someone who is going outside of the normative stereotypes. 

“For quite a few years, I’ve been wanting to join a football team” said Katie Arzate (‘23), the other of the two female athletes on the Webb football team. “I was always shut down, being told it’s a sport for boys and that I’m too small, too weak, and not good enough.” 

“For quite a few years, I’ve been wanting to join a football team… I was always shut down, being told it’s a sport for boys and that I’m too small, too weak, and not good enough.””

— Katie Arzate (‘23)

In many different ways, females have been told that football is just for males. Thankfully, this all is changing. Not only with the world of college sports, as seen in Sarah Fuller’s story, but also within the Webb community itself. Not only is there support behind the females on the football team, but there is also much encouragement.  

“I think that Dora and Katie have been a great addition to the team” said Jimmie McCloud (‘22), a member of the football team. “Their presence and football background has been a huge contribution to the team.” 

The world of sports and its relationship with female athletes is slowly beginning to change for the better. It all starts with high school football teams with female athletes, such as Webb. One thing is for certain, that there will without a doubt be more female athletes crushing the scene in the future.