Arin Gilliland of Kentucky Named Honda Inspiration Award Winner

Arin Gilliland of Kentucky Named Honda Inspiration Award Winner

Arin Gilliland, a junior soccer player from the University of Kentucky, was named the Honda Inspiration Award winner as announced by Chris Voelz, Executive Director of THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) today. The Honda Inspiration Award will be presented to Gilliland during the live telecast of the 2014 Honda Cup at 8 pm EST, on Monday, June 30, at the USC Founders Club at Galen Center.

Nominated as “one of the most inspiring student-athletes to ever play varsity sports at Kentucky”, Gilliland was hit with multiple adversities during her freshman year of college. A torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury was a notable setback to her athletic endeavors as a first-year player but a more significant hardship to the young student-athlete was the loss of her mother to cancer. Gilliland rebounded admirably from injury and loss in her freshman year to become one of the top soccer players in the nation as a junior.

“This is an absolutely amazing award to win and I am extremely humbled and honored to be the recipient,” stated Arin Gilliland. “This award means more to me than any award that I have ever received before in my life. I hope that my story has inspired people to go out and live their dreams. I think winning this award means a lot to me because it means that people can follow my footsteps and see how I have overcome the adversity in my life. I am absolutely speechless for the honor and I want to thank everyone involved in nominating me and also to the CWSA board members for electing me as the winner. There are a lot of prestigious winners of this award, and I am so proud to be joining that elite group of women.”

The defender from Lexington, Ky., is a two-time first-team All-American and was selected to play on the United States Women's National Under-23 Team this spring. During her fall campaign she collected 34 points, scored a career-high 12 goals and assisted on 10 tallies, just one shy of the program record. The team captain set a new school record in shots with 100 and continues to rewrite the Kentucky record books in a number of categories.

"What strikes me the most when hearing that Arin won this prestigious award was how much Arin has grown in her time at Kentucky,” said UK head coach Jon Lipsitz. “She has developed into an incredible leader for this team on and off the field and continues to be humble and gracious. Arin has overcome an incredible amount of adversity in her life and is truly an amazing story. We are thankful to have her in our program and honored to be a part of this wonderful awards ceremony."

“Arin put her family first and was a gift to her mother and father. She has been a wonderful gift to her teammates every year here at Kentucky, and she will be an everlasting gift to the memories of all of the UK family,” shared UK President Dr. Eli Capilouto.

"Being awarded such a prestigious honor like the Honda Inspiration Award is something that Arin has absolutely deserved in her time at Kentucky,” stated UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. “Since she stepped foot on campus three years ago, her passion and love for her team and school has been one of the driving forces in our recent women's soccer success. Arin has overcome a lot of obstacles in her life and has handled them exceptionally well. We are elated for Arin and could not be more proud of her for receiving this honor."

As the CWSA’s Honda Inspiration Award winner, Gilliland will receive her award at a live ceremony in Los Angeles joined by an impressive roster of 2014 Honda Cup finalists, including Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino (cross country), UConn's MarieElena Bolles (field hockey), UCLA's Abby Dahlkemper (soccer), Washington's Krista Vansant (volleyball), Stanford's Felicia Lee (swimming & diving), UConn's Breanna Stewart (basketball), Alabama's Kim Jacob (gymnastics) and winners yet to be named in golf, tennis, track and field, and softball.

THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards has honored the nation’s top NCAA women athletes for 37 years, recognizing superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has provided more than $2.8 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women’s athletics programs at the institutions.