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Sarah Fuller isn’t ready to leave the Vanderbilt football program any time soon. And she doesn’t plan to.
“I'm sticking around until someone tells me to go,” Fuller said Sunday, via ESPN’s Andrea Adelson.
Fuller became the first woman to play in a major conference football game when she kicked off for the Commodores on Saturday. The moment mesmerized the nation despite a 41-0 demolishing by Missouri. Her bold halftime pep talk showed leaders aren’t designed by gender.
How Fuller addressed quiet Vanderbilt at halftime
Quarterback Mike Wright said Saturday the team was excited to have Fuller, the starting goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team, and she addressed the team at halftime.
“I mean, you can take a leader out of their sport, but at the end of the day she’s still a leader,” Wright said, via Washington Post.
Fuller, who led the soccer team to a Southeastern Conference championship, told ESPN she wasn’t happy with the energy on the sidelines and asked to speak with the team trailing 21-0.
"If I'm going to be honest, I was a little pissed off at how quiet everybody was on the sideline," she said, via ESPN. "We made a first down, and I was the only one cheering and I was like — what the heck? What's going on? And I tried to get them pumped up.”
“I just went in there and I said exactly what I was thinking. I was like, ‘We need to be cheering each other on. This is how you win games. This is how you get better is by calling each other out for stuff, and I'm going to call you guys out. We need to be supporting one another. We need to be lifting each other up. That's what a team's about.’ I think this team has struggled, and that's been part of it.
“We really just need to build that team camaraderie where they can all lean on one another. It was an adjustment going from that team mentality where — hey, we're all here supporting one another — and I just wanted to bring that to this team.”
Vanderbilt dropped to 0-8 with the loss. The university parted ways with head coach Derek Mason on Sunday. He was in his seventh season and had a 27-55 overall record, including 10-46 in SEC play.
Will Fuller play for Vanderbilt again?
Vanderbilt will play No. 9 Georgia on Saturday and it’s unclear if Fuller will still be with the team. She was brought on at the beginning of the week out of necessity when the football team didn’t have any kickers available because of COVID-19 contact tracing.
The team relied on Oren Milstein in 2019, but he opted out of the season with COVID-19 concerns. The rest of their 2020 specialists had to isolate after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. It’s unclear if they will be out of isolation and ready for the next game.
Fuller said she wants to stay with the squad as long as they’ll have her, and would like to learn from the kickers when they’re out of their quarantine period.
“I've been having a lot of fun doing this,” she said, via ESPN. “It's a challenge for me, but it's something I know I can do. It's applicable from doing a goal kick to a field goal kick, so I want to continue learning, and if those guys can help me, I'm all for it.”
She said special-teams coach Devin Fitzsimmons told her post-game that they’d “love to have” her stick around and wants to find NFL kickers with similar styles to improve her game.
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