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Sarah Fuller Changes the Game

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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What Sarah Fuller is doing matters, as does what she represents.

Vanderbilt's Sarah Fuller made history on Saturday. She also made an impact. With a kickoff at halftime, Fuller became the first woman ever to play in a major conference college football game. Additionally a goalkeeper for the Commodores' women's soccer team, a program which just recently won an SEC Tournament Championship, Fuller can also pionner to her profile. The sudden matriarch of SEC football, Fuller has shown an entire generation what is possible.

Fuller changed the game by simply being herself.

As Fuller, a senior from Wylie, Texas, kicked the ball off to start the third quarter of the Vanderbilt-Missouri game, she booted away stereotypes as well. She, as an accomlished dual-sport athlete, welcomed in both the second half of a conference football game and, more importantly, a new time and place.

Fuller, after her kick, was promptly and pointedly welcomed back to the visiting sidelines with the support of her coaches and teammates, all men. Number 32 for the Commodores was, in that moment, just one of the guys, a player trying to help Vanderbilt win. A member of a team, Fuller even helped rally the troops with some words of enouragement at intermission. Part of the power of all that happened is that Fuller's appearance was regular and remarkable all at the same time. 

She looked the part. She played the part. She made the world better along the way. 

The plan, with the Commodores still having a regular season game with Georgia remaining, is for more of the same. Fuller travled to Columbia as Vanderbilt's only kicker, a talent capable of handling both kickoff and field goal duties. Her potential on the field could very soon translate to points on the scoreboard, an opportunity that did not present itself on Saturday. Already a team-first champion for the Commodores, Fuller continues to work towards the big picture goals of more than just herself. 

"I honestly haven’t taken a second to soak it all in, really. I just think it’s incredible that I am able to do this. All I want to is be a good influence to the young girls out there because there were times that I struggled in sports but I am so thankful I stuck with it. It’s giving me so many opportunities and I’ve met so many amazing people through sports," she shared postgame. "I just want to say, literally, you can do anything you set your mind to – that’s the No. 1 thing."

Now a groundbreaking an example of what is, Fuller is also a lasting example of all that can be.

“I’ve always said something in my program – people are limitless. Not limited,” Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason explained. “Today Sarah Fuller was just able to show that this game is not limited to one sex. What it comes down is if needed, if necessary, if you have a skill set, you can do anything that you want to do. Today she was needed, she was necessary and she did the job.”

What Fuller is doing matters, as does what she represents. Fuller is chasing her dreams. As she does, she continues to #PlayLikeAGirl. Fuller is showing college football just how incredible that can be. 

When young women think about the future, they can think about athletes like Sarah Fuller. Importantly, they can now see her, too.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports