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Play Like A Girl sees increase in donations after Sarah Fuller plays for Vanderbilt

Fuller became the first woman to play a regular season game in the Power 5 conferences.

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Vanderbilt University’s Sarah Fuller is kicking off a new beginning for women not only in male dominant sports, but also in male dominant career fields.

Fuller became the first woman to play a regular season game in the Power 5 conferences after every member of the Commodores’ kicking team had to stop practicing when one tested positive for COVID-19. Fuller kicked off the second half on Saturday when Vanderbilt took on Missouri.

But it’s the words printed on the back of her helmet, “Play Like A Girl.” that are catching attention. Those words are the non-profit Dr. Kimberly Clay founded. Play Like A Girl’s mission is to keep girls in sports through middle school and empower them to choose a STEM career.

“I got a text message from our board secretary saying, ‘Hey, we’re on ESPN,’ said Clay on Sunday.

Clay said she had no idea Fuller was going to put those words on her helmet. She said she’d never met Fuller nor had Fuller been part of the non-profit. They have been talking since Fuller released a photo of social media Friday, in her gear and the helmet in hand.

“She went on to share that she was going to apply for one of our internships several years ago, because we have a partnership with the athletic program and Vanderbilt, and she did not,” said Clay. “She thought this would be a great way to give back.”

Since Fuller put the words “Play Like A Girl” on the back of her helmet, the non-profit has seen about $13,000 in donations and an increase in people reach out to volunteer.

“I would love to go around and talk to people about what it’s like to be a college athlete and that it’s not easy,” Fuller said during a call with media on Sunday. “There are a lot of times where you want to quit. I’ve had a lot of phone calls with my parents when I’m crying my eyes out because I can’t pass my fitness test, or I didn’t get to travel that week or whatever.”

After Saturday’s game, Clay said Fuller plans to be role model for girls in the “Play Like A Girl” program and already has a virtual mentoring session scheduled.

“I joked, like in so many situations, a girl – a woman – was called in to save the day for the boys. And that’s always gratifying,” said Clay.

RELATED: Vanderbilt's Sarah Fuller makes history as first woman to play in SEC football game

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