When Victoria Knapp of Skyline High School won her fourth consecutive state diving championship last fall, she knew she would be sharing a podium with other divers.
But she didn’t know it would be the same divers she shares a bathroom with.
Knapp’s younger brother, Daniel, won the boys’ state title as a freshman last year. Her younger sister, now-junior Rebekah, took fourth. Flips, turns, tucks and rolls are all in the genes for the Knapp family.
Diving is typically a sport reserved for swimmers pulling double-duty, or gymnasts recruited by swim coaches looking to score more points in meets. These three siblings, however, have all been diving since elementary school. After experimenting with a mix of baseball and other sports, they all specialize in diving.
The assumption would be that Victoria, Rebekah and Daniel learned about diving by chance. Actually, they learned about it from their siblings. All 13 of them.
Out of the seven adopted and six biological, Alleigh is the oldest. Now 30, she started the family’s affinity for diving when she was 3 years old. She took swim lessons, but her eyes always found the age-restricted diving board. When she turned 4, she began diving competitively in the summers.
Her younger sister, Beth, followed suit. Although neither continued diving, their mother, Christine, spoke of how work ethic runs in the family.
“They can really do anything they set their minds to,” Christine said. “All that focus shows in their passions.”
Alleigh chose to spend her focus teaching herself piano instead of diving, and now owns a piano studio. Beth followed her passion and now works in pediatrics at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
The three represent East Valley Dive Club, out of Skyline High School in Mesa. The club’s coach, Lauren Thiel, dove with Alleigh during their high school years. Her time has given her some insight on the family.
“They know what they want to do, they know how to do it well, they want to do it well,” said Thiel, who now instructs Victoria, Rebekah, Daniel and 13-year-old Josiah.
All of the Knapp children have been homeschooled, and the youngest live at home with Christine, dad Gene, as well as an uncle and their 101-year-old great-grandmother. It’s close quarters living, and the six girls at home begrudgingly share a bathroom.
Victoria, who has completed her senior year of homeschool, is taking a gap year to explore college options. She has visited several schools and Thiel is confident in her NCAA Division I potential. Victoria is nannying and working this year, while also diving for two hours, six days each week.
The intense training regimen is consistent with the three-high school/college-aged divers in the family. Rebekah says she averages 50 dives from varying heights per practice. It’s a serious time commitment.
Daniel tried playing baseball while still diving, but decided he liked diving more. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a record holder at East Valley Dive Club in several age groups and is on pace to win four AIA state titles.
It’s only natural to face burnout in a sport in which one commits 12 hours each week.
“You just keep going through the motions and eventually you’re right back in it,” Daniel said.
Victoria’s advice on burnout was similar, she puts her head down and keeps working. Maybe it’s something that runs in the genes.
Zach Keenan is a sports journalism student at Arizona State's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism covering Skyline High School athletics.