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The Hoddle of Coffee: Tottenham Hotspur news and links for Tuesday, December 1

Sarah Fuller is more than her accomplishment

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - FA Women’s Continental League Cup Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Hi, all!

At the top today is defender Kerys Harrop, who joined the club this year from Birmingham.

Ramble of the Day

Over the weekend, Vanderbilt University’s Sarah Fuller made history as the first woman to play in a Power 5 college football game. She was a late recruit to the football team after the kickers were unavailable through COVID-19 positives — the opening anecdote of Alex Scarborough’s terrific profile of Fuller for ESPN establishes why she was an ideal candidate as a goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team.

The profile is worth reading for a number of reasons, but what I took away from it was its theme: Fuller is more than just her accomplishment, and her journey is something she and others around her would like shared.

In Fuller’s case, her path to Saturday’s game included one of injury, playing back up, and having a massive playing opportunity taken away because of the coronavirus pandemic. Scarborough interviewed Katie Hnida, the first woman to play college football at the FBS level in 2002 for the University of New Mexico, and she had this to say about covering a person’s whole journey and not just a highlight:

“I think that’s a tremendously important thing, especially when you’re talking about people being pioneers,” she said. “We all are in that boat that stuff happens in life and it’s really important that we don’t just gloss over and go to the pretty stuff.”

Hnida thought of an article she read after Fuller’s game on Saturday. It was about a girl in Texas whose missed extra point nearly cost her team a playoff game. The girl was down on herself after her mistake but had to shake it off because with time expiring she was called on to attempt a 19-yard field goal. The kick won the game.

Hnida got flashbacks to her own experience of having an extra point blocked in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl. That was devastating, she said, because she was so intent on making history and came up just short.

Eight months later, she kicked two successful extra points against Texas State.

It’s something she brings up talking to young people today.

“It’s so important to tell people that we all fall,” she said. “That’s a part of life. That’s a part of our athletic careers. It’s about getting back up no matter how many times you fall.”

I won’t bore you (too much) with why this anecdote works from a journalistic standpoint, but I will admit that Hnida’s comments (which is something Fuller herself echoed separately) gave me food for thought about the weight struggles can carry. It isn’t always a negative weight; the way Hnida puts it, sharing the natural stumbling blocks can be empowering.

That is likely especially true for people like Hnida and Fuller, who have additional and discriminatory barriers to their success. The standards are unfairly higher for those, but the realization that even pioneers did not follow a straight line to their accomplishments is an encouraging one.

Links of the Day

Newcastle’s first team squad is in quarantine as the club is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.

Wolves’ Raúl Jiménez underwent surgery for a fractured skull sustained during the team’s victory over Arsenal.

Viajes’ Paula Dapena received death threats after using a pre-match tribute to Diego Maradona to spotlight domestic abuse, which Maradona was accused of.

Stéphanie Frappart will become the first woman to referee a men’s Champions League match this week, taking charge of Juventus-Dynamo Kyiv.

A longer read: Kevin Baxter interviews former USWNT defender Rachel Buehler Van Hollebeke on how being a player prepared her for a career as a doctor fighting COVID-19 for the Los Angeles Times