Kentucky soccer star to receive national award for inspiring others

06/30/2014 06:30 AM

Tonight, Kentucky women’s soccer star Arin Gilliland will receive the 2014 Inspiration Award at THE Collegiate Women’s Sports Awards Presented by Honda in Los Angeles.

Gilliland has spent her summer in Canada, playing for the Ottawa Fury in the W-league. She’ll meet up with her family in L.A. for the awards ceremony, along with UK women’s soccer head coach Jon Lipsitz and UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart.

“Receiving this award is such an honor and so humbling,” said Gilliland. “What I have been through hasn’t been easy but what is most rewarding for me is that I now get to share my story with other people who might be in a similar situation.”

CWSA’s Inspiration Award is given to one female athlete a year who has overcome hardship and was able to return to play at the collegiate level. Gilliland inspired teammates and fans when she exhibited strength and courage following the loss of her mother to cancer in 2011 during her sophomore year. In the same year, she suffered a season-ending ACL tear during the SEC Tournament quarterfinal.

Gilliland was eventually named a team captain and continued to impress. She is now a two-time All-American, three-time All-SEC honoree and member of the United States National Team U-23 roster, among other accolades.

“When I was going through my ACL tear and then shortly after my mother’s death, there was nothing I wanted more than someone to connect with, someone who understood and had been through what I had. I just hope that I can now be that shoulder to lean on for someone else.”

Gilliland will graduate from Kentucky in December. After that, she plans to enter the draft for a chance to play at the next level and realize another dream of hers.

“I have aspirations of one day having the opportunity to play for the Senior Women’s National Team like I always promised my mother I would. She never wanted me to settle for anything less and I won’t until I feel I have done everything in my power to make my dreams come true.”

THE Collegiate Women’s Sports Awards Presented by Honda begins at 8 p.m. ET on CBS Sports, TWC channel 968.

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