One of the most consequential stories of the 2020 NCAA Division I Football season was about a young woman who broke down an important barrier. It was told by a Wittenberg alumna who is no stranger to breaking down barriers herself.
Sarah Fuller became the first woman to compete in a “Power 5” NCAA Division I Football game on November 28 when she executed a kickoff for Vanderbilt University against the University of Missouri. Two weeks later, she was successful on a pair of extra point attempts in a game between Vanderbilt and the University of Tennessee. Behind the scenes, Vanderbilt’s Director of Football Communications Sarah Fetters, Wittenberg Class of 2008, promoted Fuller’s achievements and managed the resulting crush of media attention with her usual grace and professionalism.
Fetters was thrilled to have played a key role in a story that transcended sports. She prepared Fuller, a goalkeeper for Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team, for the intense scrutiny that would come with her sudden star turn, and she coordinated media inquiries that normally do not come with the territory for a winless football team.
In an editorial she wrote for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), Fetters summed up her no-nonsense personal approach: “When we knew this event was going to happen, I had two priorities: Take care of Sarah Fuller, and take care of Vanderbilt.”
It’s fair to say that Fetters was the perfect person to promote Fuller’s big achievements. Since her first student-work opportunity as a sports information assistant at Wittenberg, Fetters has always worked in the business. She has quickly risen to a position of prominence in a field long dominated by her male counterparts.
“Who knows what they want to be when they get to college? I sure thought I did – I was going to teach high school math and coach softball,” said Fetters, who grew up in Maumee, Ohio. “My career path has been shaped by finding my passion and relentlessly pursuing it. I remember attending a colloquium my freshman year at Wittenberg presented by a man who was an alumnus and worked in marketing for the Seattle Mariners at the time (Randy Adamack ’73, currently the senior vice president for the Mariners).
“It really opened my eyes to being able to work in sports without having to play sports. I’m 5-foot-4; professional sports as an athlete was assuredly not in my future, but working in them could be. I love working with student-athletes, watching them grow during their collegiate experience and being a small piece of telling their stories. Wittenberg truly launched my career because it opened my ideas to what I could be as a professional.”
Fetters majored in communication at Wittenberg and was a four-year starter for the Tiger softball team. She earned multiple All-North Coast Athletic Conference designations, and her stellar work in the classroom, combined with her steady play in the middle infield, earned Fetters her greatest accolades – a pair of second-team CoSIDA Academic All-America awards in 2007 and 2008. During her four years in Springfield, Fetters also learned the importance of building relationships.