Former Virginia Tech soccer player Kiersten Hening has reportedly filed a federal lawsuit against head coach Charles ‘Chugger’ Adair claiming that she was forced off the team after refusing to kneel before games.
According to WSLS News, the suit was filed on March 3, and claims that “because she refused to kneel, he benched her, subjected her to repeated verbal abuse, and forced her off the team.” The suit claims the coach’s actions, as an actor of the state of Virginia, violate Hening’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Adair gave support to the proposals made by the university to have athletes wear Black Lives Matter masks, wristbands, and armbands during games, but Hening “quietly dissented”. The lawsuit does explain that Hening supports social justice and believes black lives matter, but she does not support the BLM organization and specifically disagrees with “defunding the police and eliminating the nuclear family.”
Prior to the opening game of the season on Sept. 12, Hening was named a starter just as she was throughout her freshman and sophomore seasons, but while her fellow starters knelt while an ACC statement on unity was read, Hening remained standing.
The lawsuit claims that Adair “verbally attacked” Hening during halftime pointing a finger directly in her face. Another Hokie did not kneel, but she wasn’t singled out or screamed at because she was on scholarship and her parents supposedly called the head coach telling him not to retaliate against their daughter for opposing BLM, according to the lawsuit.
Hening, who played the third-most minutes on the team in 2019, was removed from the starting lineup the next game, didn’t start the next game, and was singled out again during a film session shortly after the first dispute with the coach.
The lawsuit explains that Adaire’s abuse and retaliation made conditions for Hening intolerable which forced her off the team as she resigned on Sept. 20.
In this jury trial, Hening is looking to be granted the ability to rejoin her team without any adverse action against her exercising her First Amendment Rights, a judgment that Adair violated her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and have Adair undergo First Amendment Training, among other things.