Sarah Fuller becomes the first female to play in a power 5 football game

Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller kicks for their team


Caitlin Fowler / Talon

Courtney Ahdott steps out onto the field for OPHS senior night in 2017.

Sarah Fuller made history on Saturday, Nov. 28, as the first female to take part in a power 5 football game. Fuller’s Vanderbilts Commodores faced off against the Missouri Tigers with an ultimate outcome of 41-0 in favor of Mizzou. Despite Vanderbilt’s loss, the school still made headlines for the game due to Fuller’s historic kick. 

According to The New York Times, COVID-19 induced quarantines left the football team without a kicker for their upcoming game — and a short amount of time to find a fill-in. Fuller, a senior who played goalkeeper for Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team, was then contacted by the associate head of said soccer team, coach Ken Mashur, on the matter of whether or not she wanted to help step in and kick for the football team. Fuller agreed and was practicing on the field only an hour later. 

“[Monday] I decided I was just going to take in the win and take in the soccer aspect. [Tuesday] it’s like now let’s get into the football stuff. It hits me every now and then I’m like, ‘Whoa this is all happening,’” Fuller said in an interview.

Interim head coach Todd Fitch announced on Tuesday, Dec. 1 that Fuller would kick again for Vanderbilt in its game against Georgia on Saturday, Dec. 5. Vanderbilt, however, did not have enough players to take part in the game — causing it to be postponed. The game will be made up on Dec. 19. 

Courtney Ahdott, a former Oak Park High School student, has a similar story to Fuller’s. Ahdott was her soccer team’s goalkeeper and was set to play in college. In her junior year, she was approached by football coach Ken Clemens when the team needed a kicker. Ahdott believes that her soccer experience, as well as the fact that she would often talk about football to Clemen—who was also her sophomore history teacher—are the reasons she was approached for the position. Ahdott accepted and went on to play in the 2017 Spring and Fall seasons. 

“Being on the team was the best thing I did in high school,” Ahdott wrote to the Talon. “I loved the boys on the team and the coaches — the family aspect of the team was tremendous. I loved game days, practices, weight room, there wasn’t one thing I disliked about football season, preseason, or being on the team.” 

Ahdott has faced her fair share of sexist and rude comments from other teams while on the field, and was able to overcome them due to her thick skin. She believes that girls shouldn’t limit themselves because of their gender or because they are scared. When Fuller joined the game at the start of the second half, the words “Play Like a Girl” were on the back of her helmet.

“I just want to tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to, you really can,” Fuller said in a postgame interview.