High School Football

BARRIER BREAKERS

Fuller’s feat returns memories for Amanda Taylor, Katy’s first woman to score in a varsity football game

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 12/2/20

Amanda Taylor watched with wide eyes and a wider smile as Sarah Fuller kicked off for Vanderbilt to start the second half against Missouri in their SEC matchup on Saturday, Nov. 28.

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High School Football

BARRIER BREAKERS

Fuller’s feat returns memories for Amanda Taylor, Katy’s first woman to score in a varsity football game

Posted

Amanda Taylor watched with wide eyes and a wider smile as Sarah Fuller kicked off for Vanderbilt to start the second half against Missouri in their SEC matchup on Saturday, Nov. 28.

Fuller’s designed squib kick to the 35-yard line was the most important play in Vanderbilt’s 41-0 loss. Kicking for the team out of need due to a limited roster because of COVID-19 protocols and restrictions, Fuller, a goalkeeper for the Commodores women’s soccer team, became the first woman to compete in a Power Five conference football game.

“I was really excited about it. So proud,” Taylor said. “I was like, ‘Yes! We got one in the Power 5!’”

The moment brought back a rush of great memories for Taylor, formerly Amanda DeLafosse. Taylor, Class of 2007 at Mayde Creek High, is the first Katy ISD female football player to score in a varsity football game. In the 2006 season, she made 19-of-19 extra-point attempts and two-of-four field goals (from 41 and 35 yards, respectively) for the Rams.

“That’s one of the things in my life where I left my mark,” said Taylor, now a commercial insurance underwriter in Katy. “Not only for my school and team, but our district, too. Of anything I did while in Katy ISD, that’s by far the thing I’m most proud of.”

Liz Heaston was the first woman to score at the college level, for NAIA Willamette, in October 1997. Katie Hnida was the first woman to score at the FBS level for New Mexico in August 2003.

Tonya Goss was the first woman to kick a field goal in a college game for Division II West Alabama in September 2003.

Fuller’s feat, however, holds more significance, Taylor said.

“I hope she gets to suit up again in more games and more chances to get on the field, to get that on broadcasts and be seen,” Taylor said. “Since Vandy is more of a higher profile team than what we’ve seen from girls who’ve played in college in the past, it would be great to see little girls to see that exposure and see that it is an option to play a man’s sport if they want it.”

Like Fuller, Taylor was a talented soccer player. She started playing at four years old and eventually went on to play for the Rams and as a midfielder and forward for St. Edward’s University in Austin.

Both of her older brothers, Tyson and Taylor, played soccer. Taylor DeLafosse also kicked for the Rams’ football team. When she was in the seventh and eighth grades, Taylor would be the holder for her brother as he practiced on campus during the summers and weekends. When he would get tired, she would take some kicks as well.

She also attended then-head football coach Joe Sheffy’s summer camps with Taylor.

“Kicking on the football team was something I was always interested in trying, but I was super focused with soccer,” Taylor said. “That was my passion at the time. I was practicing (soccer) four or five nights a week, numerous games every weekend. It was more of me trying to figure out if I could make this something more than I’m just interested in and put the correct time into it. I didn’t want to get on the team and not give my best.”

A week into the football season her junior year in the fall of 2005, after much thought and consideration, Taylor decided she wanted to kick for the Rams. She discussed it with Sheffy. Sheffy advised her to return in the spring, do spring ball with the team, and compete for a spot.

Taylor did.

“Everybody thought it was a joke and that I actually wasn’t going to do it, but, no, I was serious about it,” she said.

The response was a “mixed bag,” Taylor admitted.

“You have to remember that we as a society, when it comes to what women can do, have come a long way in the past 14 years or so,” she said. “It was a different world when I was in school. There was some poking fun, and there was pressure on me in that I needed to prove myself if I was going to suit up, not be a publicity stunt.”

Taylor not only earned a spot on the team, but she won the starting job two weeks into fall preseason camp. She had full support from teammates and coaches. Outsiders, however, were a different matter.

“They thought it was us as a school trying to get our name out there because our football team wasn’t the best,” Taylor said. “But I had the support of my team, and that’s what mattered.”

Taylor eventually earned the respect of those outsiders with her play on the field, scoring five points in the Rams’ first two games of the season. The Rams’ coaches and players protected Taylor and took her under their wing.

A few weeks into the start of the season, TV crews showed up at the Rams’ practice fields to talk to Taylor.

“Coach Sheffy pulled me aside and said, ‘They’re here for you, and they’d like to interview you, but you do not have to do that if you don’t want to,’” Taylor recalled. “He offered to let me hang out inside and he’d ask them politely to leave if that’s what I wanted. He and the coaching staff were super understanding. I had a choice. I didn’t have to feel the pressure of doing what people were wanting me to do. But I did the interviews because I felt it was important.”

Another time, following an extra-point make during a game, an opposing player broke through the Rams’ protection and Taylor found herself at the bottom of the ensuing pile of players.

“And then I’m getting dragged out by our quarterback and he’s saying, ‘You don’t want to be at the bottom of the pile. I got you,’” Taylor said. “He drug me out really fast and I was so grateful. How much I felt supported and unified with them is what sticks out the most.”

Since Taylor, Katy ISD has had a couple of girls play football. Taylor, however, will always be in the district’s history records for the 25 points she scored as a varsity football player.

The hope is there will be more Amanda Taylors and more Sarah Fullers sooner than later.

“I’d tell younger girls to make sure it’s something you really do want to do,” Taylor said. “It’s a commitment. Sports are fun, but at the end of the day, they’re like a second job for students. You have to show up for your team. Once you assess and decide it’s what you want to do, don’t let outside influence sway you in any way. Just focus on your team supporting you and you supporting them.”

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