Spotlighting Some Women Becoming Big “Firsts” Recently

By Rani B. ’21 and Caroline C. ’21

Female athletes at the professional and collegiate level have recently been breaking the glass ceiling, becoming “firsts” in their positions. These women, specifically, Kim Ng and Sarah Fuller, have become inspirations to young female athletes everywhere. 

    Kim Ng recently became the first female General Manager of the Miami Marlins, making MLB history. This breakthrough was one that many league experts said was long overdue. According to The Washington Post, Ng started out as the shortstop for the University of Chicago’s softball team, and in 1990, was hired by the Chicago White Sox as an intern. In 1998 she was hired as an assistant general manager. After five job interviews throughout the 2000s with several major league teams that did not lead to job offers, Friday, November 13th, 2020 was finally Ng’s lucky day.

    When asked about what the personal significance of seeing Ng excel in the MLB meant to her, Eve L. ’21 said, “This is such an important step for women in sports everywhere. She showed that we really can do anything, and helped me see a possibility for my future that I had never even considered before, simply because there have never been any other women in such a position of power on a major league club before. I can’t wait to see other incredible women follow in her footsteps!”

    On the football field, Sarah Fuller made history after she became the first woman to ever play and score in a Power Five (an elite group of Division 1 athletic conferences) football game. Fuller, the goalie for Vanderbilt Women’s Soccer, was recruited by the Vanderbilt football team after several of their usual kickers had to quarantine due to COVID-19. With an SEC championship in women’s soccer recently under her belt, Fuller agreed to help out the football team and made her debut in Vanderbilt’s game against Missouri. Fuller successfully completed a squib kick during the game. A squib kick is a strategic play to prevent the opposing team’s better runners from being able to return the football. Due to many people not having a full understanding of the strategy behind the play, Fuller was criticized in the media. Vanderbilt lost this game 41-0 and added to their 0-7 record, causing more vile hate comments to be levied against Fuller on social media. As screenshots of these comments circulated on Instagram and other platforms, we were struck by how disrespectful, ignorant, and blatantly sexist these comments were. However, Fuller has received immense support from women and athletes throughout the country.

    Ms. Young, the Administrative Athletics Assistant at Winsor and a women’s football player, made two insights regarding Sarah Fuller, noting “First, as a female athlete it was very exciting, beautiful, monumental, rewarding and humbling to see her be able to participate in that game. I know it was a great joy for every young female athlete to see but as a women’s tackle football player and coach I have a lot of mixed emotions.”  However, Ms. Young also criticized the Vanderbilt football coaching staff and said that if Fuller played, “then [the Vanderbilt football staff should] let her play all the way. I felt like it was almost a publicity stunt.” She also noted how during the subsequent game against Tennessee, the “Tennessee Players didn’t pressure her during the extra point attempt,” a sign of disrespect, and how she left the field right after she kicked. Typically, Fuller’s male counterparts would be a backup tackler and help out their special teams, but Fuller ran off once her job was done. 

Ms. Young’s expertise as a football coach led her to the conclusion that the Tennessee team was told not to hit Sarah Fuller like they did the male players, which is unfair to both teams. Ms. Young further commented, “Give her the opportunity to prove herself on the field. We have young girls that play on Flag and Pop Warner teams with 95% boys that run, kick, and get tackled all game. They play on the offensive line, defense and special teams and we treat all of the kids the same way. They don’t get any special treatment because of their gender.”

    In her second game, however, Sarah Fuller became the first woman to score in a Power Five college football game. On Saturday, December 12th Fuller successfully made two extra points in Vanderbilt’s game against the University of Tennessee in her home stadium at Vanderbilt.  Fuller made history in the first quarter when she kicked an extra point to tie the game at 7-7.  She was cheered by fans and teammates as she walked off of the field. She also made another extra point later in the game to make her 2 for 2 in her college football kicking career.     Fuller took this moment to promote opportunities for girls in STEM and had a “Play Like a Girl” sticker on the back of her helmet. We are particularly excited to see the empowerment and impact that these advancements of women in sports have on future generations of female athletes. Kim Ng and Sarah Fuller are breaking barriers and showing girls watching across the world, including every Winsor student, that there is no limit to their futures in sports. All of us student-athletes here at Winsor and on The Banner staff are excited to see what we will accomplish and what glass ceilings we will break.