Jets Women welcomed Gilliland into her first season of the Westfield W-League in 2016, where she is on loan from the Chicago Red Stars in the American National Women's Soccer League (NWSL).
Born in Lexington in the state of Kentucky, Gilliland began her football career with her local club, Lexington FC at the age of four (4). Firstly playing alongside the boys until she switched to the club’s girls team at the age of 10, Gilliland remained with the club until she was 16.
Gilliland completed her High School education a semester early and began College in December 2010 in Kentucky, undergoing a degree in Kinesiology of which she graduated from in 2014. Her early entrance into College was due to her mother falling ill and with Gilliland’s mother being her biggest inspiration to the sport, it was her mother’s dream to watch her daughter play football in college.
“Kentucky was absolutely awesome. It was never my dream school but with my mum getting sick it was a no brainer as the University was 20 minutes from my home.”
“After my four years there I could not imagine spending my time anywhere else!” Gilliland explained.
Gilliland’s time with her college team, the Kentucky Wildcats, proved imperative to the future of her football career. She remained a remarkable player for the team, despite enduring the personal loss of her mother who lost her battle with cancer in her first year of college.
Gilliland finished her College career having scored 30 goals and having made 25 assists for her team. This success resulted in her setting new records for her college team, including eight game-winning goals. In 2014 Gilliland was awarded the HONDA Award, a National award given to inspirational players who have been affected by personal adversity.
Following her outstanding College career, Gilliland was selected to play for the Chicago Red Stars for the 2014 season. Two years into her career with Chicago, Gilliland had impressed the NWSL competition and was nominated for the Defender of the Year award in 2016.
Since relocating to Chicago with the Red Stars, Gilliland has made the city her home away from home. She explains: “What I love most about Chicago is that there is always a new adventure to explore in that city.”
“This will be my third season and I would say that I still have yet to explore a third of what it has to offer because it is just that big.”
“There is always something on, so there isn’t a minute that you could possibly ever be bored, [and] on the field I love that our team is so competitive, there isn’t a day that practice isn’t a battle and being a professional athlete that is the type of environment that we live for.”
Gilliland heard of the Westfield W-League in her first season of the NSWL.
“The W-League is pretty well known through the NWSL, so I actually knew about it after my first season because of the multiple players in the league going over to play.”
However, it was this year that Gilliland made the big move to Australia following contact by coach Craig Deans.
“Arin was brought in to replace Caprice (Dydasco) when we found out she was injured. She (Gilliland) came with a good recommendation from Jen Hoy and was in camp with the U.S National team when I first made contact with her, so she seemed a pretty good replacement for Caprice,” Deans said.
OFF THE FIELD:
Gilliland is a self-titled ‘professional beach bum’, so when the boots are off she’s headed for the sand and surf. She loves the outdoors, and she will usually be found doing “some sort of exploration or hiking, or planning my next destination.”