Former Cal Swimmer Pens Personal Essay Describing Teri McKeever’s Alleged Abuse

by Riley Overend 198

July 03rd, 2022 College, News, Pac-12

A recent member of the Cal women’s swim team wrote a firsthand account published by Sports Illustrated on Tuesday that described the abusive behavior she says she witnessed from longtime head coach Teri McKeever

The anonymous author began by noting that swimming for Cal had been a lifelong dream for her. But once she arrived on campus, she said McKeever routinely attacked the character of her teammates and even chastised them for physical challenges such as Crohn’s disease, eating disorders, and injuries. 

McKeever was placed on administrative leave in late May following allegations of abuse by dozens of former swimmers and parents. In 29 seasons at the helm of the program, she helped bring four NCAA titles to Berkeley while producing 26 Olympians who combined for 36 medals. 

At first, she said that legacy created “an aura of invincibility that initially convinced me that this form of discipline and control was required to vie for a national title.”

Now, I blame myself for not seeing sooner that Teri’s criticisms and attacks were systematic,” she continued. “Watching Teri reduce a teammate to tears in the middle of practice happened so many times that it became normalized. These episodes were never addressed; we would just swim through it all.

“Watching a teammate getting belittled to the point of despair and knowing there was nothing I could do to stop it was the most powerless I’ve ever felt in my life.”

When she was chosen for a leadership position as a senior, she says she was punished for her kindness toward targeted teammates. 

“I recall being reprimanded for comforting a crying teammate or ‘wasting my energy’ on someone who ‘didn’t bring value to the team,’” she wrote. “On multiple occasions, she implied that care for others inhibited my own swimming and insisted that I focus on myself. She portrayed some of my teammates as vampires who were sucking the life out of me and giving me nothing in return.

“But she could not dissuade me from helping my friends through some of the darkest times of their lives. The hours I spent offering advice and consolation were emotionally exhausting to me, but well worth it. Somehow, Teri failed to comprehend something that I knew. It wasn’t my teammates’ fault I was spending so much energy this way. It was hers.

“I am only now beginning to realize how much she messed with my head.”

She also addressed those who have defended McKeever in the month since the allegations first surfaced publicly. 

“I know that several previous and current team members say they had positive experiences with Teri, and they certainly may have,” she wrote. “I also know every single member of my team witnessed Teri’s abusive behavior. Just because some of the people on the team were not directly affected by the abuse does not mean that it did not happen.”

McKeever’s lawyer, Thomas Newkirk, responded to the essay with a statement. 

Teri McKeever asked me to respond to this Essay and other claims about her, not simply to deny claims as lawyers do, but to educate on the challenges facing female coaches around the country,” he wrote. “These allegations are similar to a number of other bias-driven claims leveled primarily at female coaches. These student-athlete complaints are directed at women and label female coaches as bullies for engaging in normal coaching behavior. This is a national epidemic that is mowing down great female coaches, undermining women’s rights, and threatening the future of the profession of coaching. … I have identified 200 female coaches and counting who are simply coaching just like men but are being mowed down by bias-driven complaints.”

Newkirk called the essay nonspecific, adding that the allegations are “focused on the emotions and feelings of the athletes rather than McKeever’s actual behavior. They are filtering their feelings and the behavior of their female coach via a lens forged by our expectations of what women are supposed to do, compared to what men are supposed to do.”

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Carl White
1 month ago

I hate articles penned by anonymous authors because it’s impossible to assess the credibility. Conversely, I hate when lawyers get involved in the response and evoke the gender card as a defense.

Swimmer
Reply to  Carl White
1 month ago

Do you seriously think that SI didn’t verify the identity of the author?

Piss Pooler
Reply to  Carl White
1 month ago

I don’t know about you guys but I’m starting to suspect some sort of shenanigans from this Teri broad.

John Miranda
1 month ago

The main problem with the Sports Illustrated article is that the person claiming to have swum at Cal is anonymous. If the accusations are real then put your name on them. The person claims to want change, wants everyone to believe her, but also wishes to remain anonymous?

Just sayin’
1 month ago

Why isn’t anyone else talking about the verbal and emotional unkindness going on the other female run PAC-12 teams? Wonder if Teri’s situation will curb this behavior?

Daimo
Reply to  Just sayin’
1 month ago

Are you saying there are other fair damsels in distress that need rescuing from an evil stepmother character, and that you’re prepared to charge in on a white stallion? Or just saying that women coaches are intrinsically abusive? Please clarify.

Last edited 1 month ago by Daimo
Really
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

You don’t collect facts by mocking potential victims. If you want facts check your own bias at the door.

Last edited 1 month ago by Really
Daimo
Reply to  Really
1 month ago

Please point out where I’ve been mocking potential victims.

Really
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

Fair damsels in distress that need rescue if from evil step mother….. white stallion. You think that is a respectable, non biased way to ask a question? Aren’t you concerned with how women are perceived? And trying to point out how we need to stop our bias toward them?
seriously, try asking questions that way in a court of law. See what happens.

Last edited 1 month ago by Really
Daimo
Reply to  Really
1 month ago

Those comments were towards an unidentified person making baseless accusations, not alleged victims, as per your initial statement. And they were made intentionally to highlight the absurd nature of the statement and belief behind the statement. Otherwise, guess it’s good I’m not a lawyer.

really
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

You started the sentence saying OTHER fair damsels. So who are the original fair damsels you are referring to?
Why are you referring to anyone as a fair damsel when are arguing against gender bias.
Why is the statement absurd? This is your bias playing in. You think it’s absurd. And actually it was a question that was being asked by Just sayin’. Aren’t you all for getting all of the information before making a judgement? You got zero information and made a quick judgement and referred to the potential victims and others in a derogatory way.

Daimo
Reply to  really
1 month ago

Absolutely for making fair judgments after facts are collected. The OP was asserting there are other Women’s teams supposedly dealing with similar issues, and impugned certain teams and coaches without any basis of facts. This is absurd in my book and I asked a specific question as to his motives. Sorry if this is difficult for you to understand.

Really
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

A specific question referring to the fair damsels in distress? Right.
No one cares about your book. Your feelings and perceptions are irrelevant. Isn’t that what you tell the victims again and again? Fair questioning is cross examining both sides. Where are your questions for Teri or other abusive coaches. I understand completely what’s going on.
I hope you have a front row seat in court. I would love to see your face as your idol crumbles.
But you keep arguing on her behalf. I suggest taking a logic class though. It might be helpful.

Daimo
Reply to  Really
1 month ago

Resorting to ad hominems, are we? I guess we’ve reached the end of your abilities. Thanks for playing.

Like I said, though, it’s ok to ask for help when you don’t understand. That’s a better starting place than making so many, many assumptions.

Really
Reply to  Really
1 month ago

I understand what you wrote. Your logic is flawed. From the amount of dislikes your comments get through out this thread I’d say you lost the debate.

Really
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

That’s mocking

daimo
Reply to  Really
1 month ago

Really, Really, I’ve largely refrained from mocking in my posts. I’m not sure what pains you in my last post, but it seems you’re intent on furthering your view of yourself as never being wrong, or open to some even slight clarification on what others have written. Congratulations, I’m sure its an attitude that will serve you well in life.

Last edited 1 month ago by daimo
Daimo
1 month ago

I should be shocked that the lede was buried here, but then I’ve been highly underwhelmed by people these past 6 years….

…..did no one pick up on the statement that Coach Teri is one of over 200+ women coaches who have undergone this exact scenario?

SCCOACH
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

I picked up on it. I’m waiting on the list.

Daimo
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 month ago

Did you ask for it?

Enough is enough
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

Please provide the list of over 200 female coaches that have been through this. We’ll wait. In the meantime, I hope the damage being done to this program and these student-athletes can be repaired.

Daimo
Reply to  Enough is enough
1 month ago

If I had it, I would. But I’m not the one to ask.

daimo
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

I mean, if there was only some place I could google results of “women coaches gender bias” or something like that….

Really
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

Wait. You don’t have the list? So you are taking the quote at face value with no facts to back it up. How do we know that the 200 coaches aren’t just the persons perception? How do we know that the situation is the same? Do you have the legal training to back that argument up?
Maybe the coaches are just to sensitive and they feel like the same thing has happened to them?

Daimo
Reply to  Really
1 month ago

Maybe….but it’s good to see you using some skills of discernment.

Blackflag82
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

Right, so throughout these comments your hot take has essentially been…”don’t believe any of the former swimmer’s statements at face value, we have to wait for the facts to come out.”

But above you clearly take the lawyer’s statement at face value and as accurate?

gtfo

Daimo
Reply to  Blackflag82
1 month ago

Really? Funny, the words on my screen are suggesting that people actually ask more questions about the statement. While that’s the direct opposite of taking something at face value, I guess that’s confusing for some people.

Blackflag82
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

hmm…your strings of statements above and throughout suggest a very different reality. Sometimes what you think you’re saying, and what’s actually being said aren’t the same thing, but I understand that might be confusing for you

Daimo
Reply to  Blackflag82
1 month ago

Maybe…I’ve got blind spots and I’m open to examination. But I’d suggest you do the same. On this point I’ve been clear, though, about encouraging people to ask questions. That’s been the thread of my posts. However, I understand that you’ve already convicted Coach Teri based on a few “press” reports and aren’t open to any examination of your emotions or thoughts at this time.

Really
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

Let me point out a blind spot. While arguing for women’s rights you are referring to potential abuse victims as fair damsels in distress that need rescue from a person on a white horse……

Daimo
Reply to  Really
1 month ago

Yes, you really don’t understand my use of such language, do you. But please keep showing your ignorance on what I said and refusal to try and figure it out.

Really
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

That’s a discriminatory term. How do you not understand that?

Daimo
Reply to  Really
1 month ago

Because you’re not understanding what I wrote. But keep railing, don’t ask for clarification, see where that goes.

Daimo
Reply to  Really
1 month ago

How many times do I have to say this: you’re not understanding my post. Why is it so hard for you to just ask for clarification?

Boganville
1 month ago

A defense based on more of this gender Wokeism Cult nonsense…a fad that needs to fade…real intelligent people aren’t buying into it.

Daimo
Reply to  Boganville
1 month ago

Once again, if you don’t have a credible argument, attack the person. Thank you for your ad hominem, Mr. Hannity.

Boganville
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

Expand? Not sure where you went with that reply/comment…?

Daimo
Reply to  Boganville
1 month ago

If. You. Don’t. Have. A. Credible. Argument. The. Attack. The. Person.

Does typing slower help?

Boganville
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

Speed is not the issue…thorough explanation if your thoughts. I’m not doubting that you have a thought you want to get across. I’m not even sure we are in some kind of disagreement or not.
Who is Mr. Hannity btw?

anonymous
Reply to  Boganville
1 month ago

Fox News

SCCOACH
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

Can you just stop posting. Many people have come forward with very specific arguments and you sound like an insane person.

Boganville
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 month ago

Exactly

daimo
Reply to  SCCOACH
1 month ago

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -Gandhi

azswummer
Reply to  daimo
1 month ago

You forgot to take your antipsychotic today. Either that or you need to increase the dose because those delusions and irrational thinking are still front and center. Now you are aligning yourself with Ghandi? Why are you hanging on this discussion board anyway since you seem to think you’re so much more intelligent and insightful than the rest of us. Take your talents elsewhere my friend. We’ll all be better for it.

Daimo
Reply to  azswummer
1 month ago

Did you buy the personal attacks by the dozen?

azswummer
Reply to  Daimo
1 month ago

Only when people like you go fishing for them.

Daimo
Reply to  azswummer
1 month ago

Well, proceed then. As I said, when you got nuthin’, go after the person. I’ll assume you got nuthin’ and ignore you from here out. Although (as I said elsewhere) the irony of you being ok attacking someone directly, while further allegations of abuse, isn’t lost.

Last edited 1 month ago by Daimo
Asamans
1 month ago

Believe me, if a male coach had done and said all those things, I would have reported him as well! The only thing that has to do with gender bias is that maybe people would be more afraid to report a male coach for those acts, but it is still unacceptable!
So please guys, report all of your abusive coaches, sport must be fun, not destructive!

Queen
1 month ago

Anonymous authors carry less weight.

MarkB
Reply to  Queen
1 month ago

Is Queen your given name?

observer
1 month ago

I don’t feel all of the news articles describing Teri McKeever’s behavior on deck reflect a true definitive coaching style. These behaviors are far beyond a coaching style. This is a large reflection on Ms. McKeever herself. If you view the “team” as a “unit”, and the team is it’s own “family”, then you have a “family team” that is lead by someone who has poor boundaries. In addition, certain family members being held as “good” and others as “bad” is much more dysfunctional then the team being demoralized as a whole. This creates “splitting”, another dysfunctional dynamic. In addition, shame based comments about weight, size, and eating were based on Ms. McKeever’s own prejudices and not on evidenced based… Read more »

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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