Beaufort News

Clemson to induct soccer standout Arrington into Hall of Fame

Deliah Arrington is being inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Deliah Arrington is being inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame on Saturday. Clemson University photo

The Waddell Mariculture Center in Bluffton is where Deliah Arrington is at her best.

It's there -- in the 24 ponds on the 220-plus acre property -- where Arrington raises red drum, striped bass and sea trout in order to restock them into the wild.

Call it her sanctuary.

"I've always been an outdoors person," she says. "Then I started at school, found that major and fell in love with it."

Clemson University was where Arrington took part in another one of her loves, on the soccer field.

Call it her domain.

It was there that Arrington dominated the opposition and made it look easy.

She earned ACC Player of the Year honors in 2002, was named to multiple second- and third-team All-American lists during her career and is still the Tigers' career scoring leader with 50 goals and 127 points.

Clemson will pay Arrington back for her hard work on the field Saturday when Clemson hosts Georgia Tech in football at Memorial Stadium (3:30 p.m., ESPN). That's when she will be inducted into the Tigers' most recent Hall of Fame class.

"It's hard to put into words," she said. "It's a pretty big deal, but I don't know that it's completely hit me yet. I guess the hard work I put into it and all the sacrifices I made paid off in some sort of way. That's kind of what it feels like.

"For Clemson to recognize that is unbelievable. The kind of athletes that go through Clemson, a lot of (talented) athletes, and to be picked out as one is pretty amazing."

Arrington has lived in the Lowcountry for just more than a year now. Nearly a decade before that, she was making a living off her opponents.

She was drafted by the Philadelphia Charge and was playing in the WUSA, the first female professional soccer league. She was teammates with soccer sensation Hope Solo, who was taken in the same draft.

But her time was short-lived, as she blew out her knee in 2003 during a game in New York. There was no harmful collision that caused her ill-fated soccer future, but instead an unfortunate incident where she went for a ball all by herself and felt her knee buckle.

"It was just kind of weird," she recalled. "I over-hyperextended my knee and that was it."

It brought to end an impressive career that saw Arrington lead the Tigers to their first ACC regular-season title in 2000 -- thanks in part to an upset of perennial power North Carolina -- and a career sweep over the South Carolina.

It's one of the many reasons why she will be forever enshrined by her alma mater.

"Just thinking about all the events that we have going on, it's kind of starting to sink in just a little bit," she said.

Arrington has few pictures and little memorabilia to remind her of her time on the soccer field. But she doesn't need those type of things when she has her club team at the Storm Soccer Academy on Hilton Head Island to look after.

"I guess the biggest thing is being out on the soccer field four or five times a week with my kids," she said. "The only reason I'm here really is because that's how it started. The kids are a pretty good memory of how I got here."

Here, in her domain. Her sanctuary.

Deliah Arrington, pond manager and biologist at the S.C. Department of Natural Resoures Waddell Mariculture Center is shown here Tuesday morning at the center in Bluffton. Arrington, the all-time leading scorer in women's soccer at Clemson will be inducted into the Clemson University Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday.