Elite Diver Faces Chronic Growth-Related Knee Issues and Wins

A core team of caregivers helped Scott Garman overcome injuries and achieve his dream of becoming a D1 diver 

Scott diving

When Scott Garman was 7 years old, he watched Olympic divers and dreamed about becoming one of them. That was when he started diving, and ever since, he’s risen through the ranks as an elite diver. In fact, the high school senior recently committed to dive for the University of California, Berkeley, for next fall.

“When I first started diving, I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep doing it, but my coach said he could take me far. I’m glad he kept me motivated,” Scott says.

Scott dives for both his high school team and the Santa Clara Diving Club, a part of USA Diving, the governing body of elite divers. He’s a well-rounded diver who competes on all levels of springboard and platform. Recently, he went to the nationals with his club and did well.

The secrets to his success are supportive coaches, parents, and teammates; a go-to orthopedic doctor and physical therapist; and an impressive ability to stay calm while competing. “You have to be chill in diving. There is no point in freaking yourself out. Sometimes on the board I sing a song in my head to stay calm,” Scott says.

Osgood-Schlatter disease and other sports-related injuries

With many young elite athletes, sports injuries are a constant challenge. Scott has been receiving care at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health’s Children’s Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center for the past eight years.

“It’s really helpful to know that if I get injured, I can go right down there and see Dr. Boyd and Charlie [Lee, his physical therapist]. The Pleasanton clinic is just five minutes from my house, and the care team is the cream of the crop. Dr. Boyd is really cool. She calms me down when I’m worried about an injury. She helps me know it will be OK,” Scott says.

The care team, led by Christine Boyd, MD, medical director of the Stanford Children’s Sports Medicine Program, has treated Scott for a variety of injuries related to diving, including a thumb fracture, a wrist fracture, and back pain. Scott also suffered from a chronic, on-off growth-related issue with his knees, called Osgood-Schlatter disease. Osgood-Schlatter disease is common in young athletes who use their knees a lot.

“Divers put stress on their knees on their approach and when punching down on the board,” says Dr. Boyd. “For Scott, we managed his knee pain for several years so he could train and compete while his body grew.”

The bones of children and adolescents have what are called growth plates—areas of cartilage at the ends of bones that are soft, allowing for bones to lengthen. They disappear when a person’s skeleton reaches its full size and height. Osgood-Schlatter disease usually occurs during the preteen and teenage years.  

“Knee pain is the most common injury we see in 12- to 13-year-olds, which is when Scott’s pain started. It takes a careful balance to maintain a child’s health during athletic training. It helps when the athlete can gauge for themselves what’s too much activity. Scott has always had good body awareness,” says Charlie Lee, PT, DPT.

Lee is grateful that’s he’s been able to be Scott’s go-to physical therapist all of these years. He smiles when he sees Scott’s autographed photo, taken during a junior nationals meet, on the clinic’s wall of athletes.

“It’s great to get that chance to build rapport and trust with young athletes and their family over time,” he says. “It’s been great working with Scott.” 

A strength of the Pleasanton orthopedics and sports medicine clinic is that everyone—doctors, physical therapists, and athletic trainers—is all in one place.

“At our multispecialty clinics, we understand young elite athletes and we know how bone growth relates to injury patterns,” Dr. Boyd says. “I have enjoyed providing Scott with continuity of care over the years. The better I know an athlete, the better I am able to manage their injuries.”    

When medical professionals are just down the hall from each other, it is easy for them to collaborate and stay on the same page when it comes to providing care. Another strength of Stanford’s Sports Medicine Program is a total focus on youth athletes.

“All we see are kids, and close to 90% of our patients at our Pleasanton clinic are middle school and high school athletes,” Lee says.

Scott diving into pool

A bright future for Scott

Dr. Boyd believes that Scott has what it takes to be an elite athlete: resilience, perseverance, and staying composed in the face of stress.

“He is determined and positive, including toward his injuries. He always handles them well and doesn’t let injuries discourage him,” she says.  

Scott is known for boosting morale and easing tension at practices and before meets. He lightens the mood by playing music and being silly. He especially enjoys supporting the younger divers on the team.

“I’m excited to be a D1 athlete. Diving is an escape from the world. At the end of the day, it is a sport and it should be fun,” Scott says. “That concept can get lost in the translation for athletes, so I always try to put a positive spin on diving.”

No doubt, Scott will do well his senior year and set himself up for a successful diving career at UC Berkeley next fall.

“I’m happy he gets to compete at a high level in college. Based on his motivation to succeed, I’m sure he will do well,” Lee concludes.


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