BERKELEY, Calif. - In the weeks after Cal soccer players first broke their silence about allegations of mistreatment, bullying, and fat-shaming by their long-time coach, more alumns have now come forward to corroborate their claims.
Nearly two dozen current and former women's soccer players have contacted KTVU to share disturbing accounts of their experiences playing for coach Neil McGuire. And multiple women say they were ignored or brushed off by the university administration when they complained.
Their stories stretch back more than a decade and all ring with striking similarities.
"I love my life now and try not to dwell on the past, but I just really don't want this to keep happening to other girls," said Tamara Aboumrad, who played for McGuire in 2013 and reached out to KTVU after seeing the in-depth investigative report, "Surviving the Game".
"I was moved," she said. "I agreed with everything [the players] said. I feel like I had more to add."
KTVU first uncovered the issues inside the Cal soccer program in the year-long investigation, which aired last month. Mulitple players said McGuire created a toxic team culture, bullied athletes, and displayed manipulative behavior.
"He just ruined everything we thought we were as people," Aboumrad said. "I felt like everything I ever was as a person was stripped of me."
And she wasn't the only one.
In nearly a dozen new interviews and letters, more players have now come forward also describing constant shaming and humiliation by their former coach.
One wrote that she quit the Division 1 team eight years ago due to "daily mental and emotional abuse from Neil McGuire."
Another former Cal player wrote to KTVU, calling it "a sick and emotionally abusive environment" created by the long-time coach. She also said, "I had never been publicly humiliated like this before."
Multiple players said that even years later, they are still haunted by recurring nightmares about McGuire and their time in the Cal soccer program.
And it wasn't just athletes.
Parents of former Cal players also reached out to KTVU to share how their kids' experiences playing soccer at the university had painful, long-term effects on their entire families.
"What we didn't want is our daughter waking up in the middle of the night in cold sweats having anxiety attacks going through essentially PTSD," said the father of one former soccer player, who didn't want to be identified.
Like other players who spoke to KTVU, he said that his familiy was warned not to send their daughter to Cal to play for McGuire, but ignored that advice.
"'Oh no you don't want to play for Neil. Play for anybody but Neil,'" he recalled his daughter's coach warning him as far back as 2009.
He said he complained to the university about the coach's behavior but was brushed off.
"It was a hollow disappointing response to me and it just felt to me like it was a cover-up, worst case response," he said. "Or it was a just try to ignore this and let's sweep it under the rug and move on."
That father wasn't the only parent who claims they informed the administration in hopes of finding some resolution, only to be met with more frustration.
One parent showed KTVU a string of emails with administrators from 2014 outlining similar complaints against McGuire, and documenting their failed attempts to get someone to listen.
"It has been over a month and I have not heard from your department," one email to the university said. "I am not taking this situation lightly as I feel [my daughter] was targeted to be bullied into quitting the team. You are well aware of our story."
After weeks of communication regarding this issue, KTVU reached out to Cal again about the new information from the women and parents who came forward and said their complaints fell on deaf ears.
A university spokesman said they do not have any further comment about a review of the complaints that is currently underway, citing privacy laws.
The spokesman also said "No one should infer that UC Berkeley does not address complaints" and referred to what he called a "robust process to address complaints."
Multiple players, including Aboumrad, said they tried and failed to get Cal administrators to take their complaints about McGuire seriously over the years.
"People have tried to go to the Athletic Director and nothing's been done," Aboumrad said. She insists even all these years later she would still like to speak to someone at Cal about her experience. But when asked if she thinks anybody at her alma mater would listen, Aboumrad replied, "I don't think so."
Several former Cal players said they are only now finding some sort of resolution by speaking publicly about their experiences, and finding each other.
"I feel like I got my voice back," said goalie Olivia Sekany, who graduated early from Cal in order to get away from McGuire. She described fat-shaming, verbal abuse, and punishing workouts during her time on the team.
But Sekany said now, after speaking out, she has heard from more than a dozen other Cal soccer alumni who went through similar experiences on the team. Many sent her messages of support and thanks.
"Frankly, speaking out was the best thing I could do in a lot of ways, but it showed me how powerful I could be in a lot of ways without [McGuire]," Sekany said.
Simone Aponte is the Executive Producer of Investigations for KTVU. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @simoneaponte.
Claudine Wong is an anchor and reporter for KTVU. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ClaudineKTVU.