Several former members of the Cal women’s soccer team said Golden Bears coach Neil McGuire created an atmosphere of bullying, fat-shaming and intimidation that led to mental and emotional distress during their years with the program.
In a KTVU report aired Sunday, former Bears players — including some with Bay Area ties — described a toxic environment within the women’s soccer program that McGuire has led since 2007, recording the most wins in school history and reaching the NCAA Tournament 12 times in 13 years.
“I’m mentally tough and this was the first time I had been broken down,” Hannah Koski told KTVU. Koski is a Danville native who was on the Bears roster for three seasons from 2013 to 2015.
A statement sent to this news organization by the Cal athletic department did not address the allegations, citing privacy concerns, but noted there is “nothing more important to us than the health and well-being of our student-athletes.”
The allegations come in the wake of several public scandals for Cal athletics, including accusations last year by a sports medicine intern that football coaches and players had sexually harassed and assaulted her.
Former Bears goalkeeper Olivia Sekany, a Livermore native, said McGuire would hound her about her weight, and she went on several crash diets to try and end the criticism.
“I was just trying everything in my power to fix whatever was wrong with me so that he would stop coming after me and he would just let me play soccer,” Sekany said in the interview with KTVU.
Sekany graduated early to get away from Cal, KTVU reported. She’s now on the roster at the University of Washington.
Caroline Clark, a Lafayette native, was a regular starter for the Bears in 2017 and 2018. But she quit the team after her sophomore season, giving up her scholarship.
Clark told KTVU “any love that I had for soccer he completely took away. I just wasn’t happy anymore.”
Sekany and Clark detailed an incident the Bears players later called “Raingate.” McGuire called off practice due to rain one day in March 2018. But the players trained outside anyway.
McGuire found out, and the players were made to run and work out again.
“I ran until I couldn’t feel my arms anymore,” Sekany said. “On the last lap that we were doing, my vision went black as I crossed the finish line. I just started saying, ‘I can’t see, I can’t see.’” Sekany then said McGuire had an assistant coach help her to the trainers’ room.
Koski and Sekany told the station they met with Cal athletic department officials to detail their issues with McGuire. They said they felt their complaints fell on deaf ears.
“When we used terms like ’emotional abuse,’ they were condescending in a way, as if we didn’t understand the implications of using terminology like that, which we very much did,” Sekany said. “We had discussed it at length and decided that that is absolutely an appropriate term to