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College Football Player Sarah Fuller To Take Part In Inauguration Special

Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller, pictured before a game against Missouri on Nov. 28, will be featured in a prime-time program celebrating the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Wednesday.
L.G. Patterson
Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller, pictured before a game against Missouri on Nov. 28, will be featured in a prime-time program celebrating the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Wednesday.

Sarah Fuller is no stranger to making history. The Vanderbilt University senior shattered glass ceilings this winter as the first woman to play and score in a Power Five college football game. And she's now slated to take part in Wednesday's inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

"It's an honor to be invited to participate in one of America's greatest traditions," Fuller tweeted on Sunday. "This historic inauguration is especially meaningful for American women and girls. The glass ceilings are breaking and it is the time to#LeadLikeAWoman."

The Presidential Inaugural Committee on Sunday released the names of additional individuals who will be highlighted during "Celebrating America," the prime-time program that will air Wednesday evening featuring remarks and performances from the incoming president and vice president, celebrities and other "American heroes."

Fuller is listed as one of the "everyday Americans who have stepped up in their communities." In addition to her historic role on the Vanderbilt football team, she is credited with helping lead its women's soccer team to an SEC championship — its first since 1994.

The soccer goalie was tapped for the men's football team after several coronavirus-related quarantines left it without a kicker.

On Nov. 28, Fuller became the first woman to play a football game in the Power Five, a group of the country's largest and most popular athletic conferences. And she became the first woman to score in a Power Five football game on Dec. 12, when she kicked a pair of extra points for Vanderbilt in a game against rival University of Tennessee.

Only two other women have played in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, according to ESPN: Katie Hnida of New Mexico and April Goss of Kent State.

In an interview with NPR's All Things Considered in December, Fuller said supportive messages have poured in from big-name professional athletes as well as young female kickers on their high school teams. She offered words of encouragement for other women hoping to follow a similar path:

"I would say to continue working hard but understand that there are going to be challenges that come your way, and the best thing you can do is stay positive and stay motivated and stay strong, and have people around you that will continue to support you during the tough times," Fuller said. "Because at the end of the day, if you push past those struggles it makes you stronger and that much closer to your goal."

Fuller is joining a jam-packed roster of entertainers, activists and front-line workers in Wednesday's special, which will be hosted by Tom Hanks and run from 8:30 to 10 p.m. ET. Other names include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bruce Springsteen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, labor leader Dolores Huerta, Chef José Andrés and Kim Ng, the first woman MLB general manager.

Other "everyday Americans" that will be highlighted in the event include critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay, who was the first person in the U.S. to be vaccinated outside of a clinical trial, and two eight-year-olds who led successful campaigns to feed families in their communities.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
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