Carley Arnold, 20, is the girlfriend of T.J. Hockenson, a tight end for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Hockenson, who was named the Big Ten Tight End of the Year in 2018, was selected by the Detroit Lions at the 2019 NFL draft.
Hockenson and Arnold both grew up in Chariton, Iowa, and were high school sweethearts. Arnold is a student at the University of Northern Iowa and a former Miss Iowa Teen USA winner.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Carley Arnold Was Crowned Miss Iowa Teen USA 2017; It Was Her First Pageant
Carley Arnold is best known for winning Miss Iowa Teen USA 2017. But she would be the first person to tell you that participating put her outside of her comfort zone. Arnold grew up playing sports and had never considered entering a pageant before.
Arnold explained in a blog post for the organization that the idea of performing in front of a crowd had always terrified her. She said her mother had push her to “get up on stage and perform at my dance recitals, and to get out on the field at my tee ball games” Arnold said she was even nervous to attend birthday parties as a kid because of her overwhelming shyness.
That history appears to have been the main motivator behind Arnold’s decision to enter the Miss Iowa Teen USA pageant. For the blog, she wrote that she tried to live by a quote from author Neale Donald Walsch: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Arnold explained that “Going into middle school and high school, I was always up for a new challenge and wanted to be involved in everything I could be because of this advice… Going into my state pageant in October, there was no doubt I felt a little bit out of my comfort zone.” She added that the experience was a way to “put herself out there,” learn something new, and that being crowned the winner was the “cherry on top.”
Arnold encouraged readers to “leap over the end of your comfort zone” because otherwise, “you really don’t know what you are missing or what kind of opportunities will come your way. It could just change your life.”
After winning Miss Iowa Teen USA, Arnold also competed in the national Miss Teen USA pageant that summer and made it to the top 15. Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff of Missouri won the crown.
2. Carley Arnold is Majoring in Exercise Science at the University of Northern Iowa & Wants to Become an Orthodontist
Carley Arnold is a student at the University of Northern Iowa. She is an exercise science major and plans to become an orthodontist. In a video published before the Miss Teen USA pageant, Arnold explained that she chose that field because she wants to “help kids and teens gain confidence in their smiles. I feel very ambitious going into this male-dominated industry.”
When she’s not studying, Arnold stays physically active. She teaches cycling classes at Joywheel Cycling Studio in Cedar Falls. She wrote in a recent Instagram post that she is “very thankful for the opportunity to do what I love, and for the experience of working with such awesome people!”
Arnold is also clear on where she stands in terms of her football loyalty. She is seen wearing Hawkeye gear in several photos on Instagram. She posted the above photo in September of 2018 with the caption, “I love being a Panther, but I love my Hawkeye more. ??”
3. Carley Arnold Played Volleyball, Basketball, Softball & Tennis During High School & Won Homecoming Queen
Carley Arnold explained in the Miss Teen USA blog that she played four sports and competed year-round during her high school years. Her Instagram page includes photos of her playing volleyball, basketball, softball, and tennis. She also reportedly graduated high school with a 4.2 GPA.
On July 3, 2014, Arnold shared a cute picture of herself holding a softball, while wearing her Chariton High School jersey. She excitedly announced that she had hit her very first home run. It was also her 16th birthday.
Miss Iowa Teen USA may have been Arnold’s first pageant, but it was not her first crown. She was named Homecoming Queen during her senior year of high school, in the fall of 2015. She wrote on Instagram, “So glad my last homecoming was filled with great memories and great people. ❤️?”
4. Carley Arnold Was Diagnosed With Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at Age 13
Carley Arnold stayed active throughout her childhood and into adulthood despite having to deal with chronic pain. She was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when she was 13.
Arnold told the Teen USA organization, in the blog post and in the video embedded above, that the news came as a shock. She wrote, “I’m not going to lie, it was hard trying to manage this disease on top of all of my sports, but I am competitive and there was no way I was sitting out. So, as time passed on, I had my good days and my bad days, but overall I am thankful for this disease in a weird way. It made me stronger and pushed me to work even harder to live a healthy lifestyle.”
In the video, Arnold said that in managing the illness, she discovered just how resilient she could be. She added that the reason she always has a smile on her face is that she “loves to be positive and see the good in everything.”
5. Carley Arnold & T.J. Hockenson Are High School Sweethearts
Carley Arnold and T.J. Hockenson are both from the small town of Chariton, Iowa. According to 2017 census data, the town has a population of about 4,122 people. Arnold said that her high school graduating class had about 100 students. She wrote that she was glad to have grown up in “such a loving and supportive community behind me; I am just excited to see and do anything and everything I can in this world!”
Arnold and Hockenson both graduated high school in 2016, but he is one year older. They have been celebrating their birthdays together for several years now; they were both born on July 3. In December of 2018, Arnold wrote on Instagram, “3 YEARS with the man that keeps me laughing. ❤️ Where does the time go?! I can’t even put into words how much he means to me. So thankful to go through life with you and your goofy, caring, hardworking self. Loving you is fun TJ Hockenson. ?”