Fuller is no stranger to the big stage of college athletics. She was the starting goalkeeper for Vanderbilt’s Southeastern Conference (SEC) champion women’s soccer team this season.
Fuller became part of the Commodores’ football squad after the team’s regular kickers were sidelined by the coronavirus.
But after reading a story about Fuller on ESPN.com, I realized that her journey to two-sport fame has not been an easy one. That makes Fuller a great example for kids who like sports.
Before this season, Fuller had appeared in only two games in her three years at Vanderbilt. The problem was she kept getting hurt.
Fuller broke her foot before her freshmen year and missed her entire first season. Then she injured her back during her sophomore year and had to take time to recover.
Coaches at a big-time soccer program such as Vanderbilt can’t wait for a player to get healthy. They recruited other talented goalkeepers who played instead of Fuller.
Fuller’s bad luck continued last summer when she suffered a stress fracture in her foot because of running too much. So at the beginning of her senior season, Fuller was behind the other goalkeepers again.
Fuller didn’t quit or get discouraged. She kept working hard and cheering for her teammates. Fuller finally got her chance four games into the 2020 season and made the most of her opportunity. She ended up leading the SEC with a 0.97 goals against average (the number of goals for each regulation game) and helping her team win the SEC tournament.
When kids see an athlete such as Fuller on television smiling and being interviewed, it’s easy to think her career has been all glory and winning games. But like so many sports figures, Fuller has had to come back from injuries and disappointments.
A couple of things may have helped Fuller have a never-give-up attitude. First, she’s a good student. Fuller has been on the SEC Academic Honor Roll during her first three years at Vanderbilt. When she wasn’t playing, Fuller was getting a good education.
In addition, she appears to be someone who thinks of other people’s feelings. Fuller plays with a sticker that says “Play Like a Girl” on her football helmet. The words support a nonprofit organization that encourages girls to play sports and study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
So Fuller is not just a history-maker, she’s a role model. And that’s what makes her an all-around winner.