BLACKSBURG, Va. — Very few 21-year-old college juniors could boast of a successful 12-year career. Kaylea Arnett could, but she’s not the kind to boast.
Arnett, a Chickasaw from Spring, Texas, and two-time All-American diver at Virginia Tech, is the kind to think of others first.
Asked about her recent accomplishments, which include twice being named Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Diver of the Year, Arnett said “I always strive to make my family, my coach and my tribe proud.”
She has consistently accomplished that goal since she first began training at the U.S. Diving Regional Training Center at Oklahoma City Community College in 2001. It would be difficult to tell her story without numbers, and for Arnett, the numbers add up to an amazing career in the sport she has practiced for more than half her young life.
Five gold medals earned during her three years as a diver at Virginia Tech only add to the impressive list of more than 50 first-place finishes in a career which started when she was only 9 years old.
She advanced quickly and by age 10, she was the youngest diver to qualify for the U.S. team that traveled to the Junior Pan-American Games in Belem, Brazil. In her first international competition, she earned bronze medals in the 1-meter and in the platform competition.
Since then, she has earned nine Junior National Championships. She and her partner, Michelle Cabassol, also earned gold medals in the Synchronized Women Platform event at the USA Diving National Championships in 2013.
Arnett also took part in the 2012 Olympic Diving Trials. She won two gold medals and a bronze in the 2007 Junior Pan-American Championships and two bronze medals at the 2005 Pan-American Championships.
She finished her junior year at Virginia Tech as a three-time Atlantic Coast Conference Diver of the year.