WASHINGTON • Vanderbilt University kicker Sarah Fuller made US collegiate American football history on Saturday, as the first woman to play in a "Power Five" contest in the Commodores' 41-0 loss to Missouri.
Fuller, the goalkeeper for the school's Southeastern Conference champion women's football team, was given the chance to play on the gridiron after Covid-19 testing left Vanderbilt without a kicker.
"I was really excited to step out on the field and do my thing," the 21-year-old said.
Because Vanderbilt's offensive unit sputtered, her contribution was limited to a single play - the second-half kick-off.
She punched the ball to the Missouri 35-yard line, a tricky low offering compared to the usual deeper kicks, where the Tigers fell upon it. Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said she executed the kick exactly as planned.
Although other women have kicked previously for college teams, Fuller, whose helmet had the message "Play like a girl" on the back, was the first woman to play for a major college American football programme.
"Honestly, it's just so exciting," she said.
"The fact I can represent the little girls out there who wanted to do this - or thought about playing football or any sport, really - and it encourages them to be able to step out and do something big like this, it's so awesome."
Fuller had a 7-2 record for the Commodores women's football team and was pleased to send a message to young girls who might emulate her example in whatever field they might choose.
"I just want to tell all the girls out there - you can do anything you set your mind to, that's the No. 1 thing," she said. "You really can. If you have that mentality all the way through, you can do big things.
"All I want to is be a good influence to the young girls. There were times that I struggled in sports but I am thankful I stuck with it."
In 1997, Liz Heaston became the first woman to play and score in a college American football game when she kicked two extra points in Willamette University's 27-0 win over Linfield College.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS