Female soccer player kicked off college team for refusing to kneel, lawsuit claims

Former Virginia Tech women’s soccer player Kiersten Hening

A female athlete at Virginia Tech says her coach “benched her, subjected her to repeated verbal abuse, and forced her off the team” after she refused to kneel in tribute to Black Lives Matter during a soccer game.

WSET reports that soccer player Kiersten Hening has now filed a lawsuit against Tech women’s soccer coach Charles “Chugger” Adair, according to court documents.

“Hening’s stance was costly — too costly,” said the suit, filed on March 3. “Her coach dislikes Hening’s political views. Because she refused to kneel, he benched her, subjected her to repeated verbal abuse, and forced her off the team.”

The lawsuit charges that the coach’s actions violated Hening’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Athletes “taking a knee” at sporting events simply because so many eyes and cameras are trained on them has become a national issue, beginning with former NFL football player Colin Kaepernick famously doing it during the national anthem, with lasting effects on his career.

The lawsuit said Hening “supports social justice and believes black lives matter, she does not support the BLM organization.”

According to the lawsuit, during halftime of a Sept. 12 game at the University of Virginia, “Coach Adair berated Hening for her stance. He singled her out and verbally attacked her, pointing a finger directly in her face. He denounced Hening for ‘bitching and moaning,’ for being selfish and individualistic, and for ‘doing her own thing.’”

The lawsuit also stated that Adair targeted Hening instead of another player who also didn’t kneel.

The suit goes on to claim that Adair also singled Hening out at the team’s next game on Sept. 17. The suit says Hening did not start the team’s match against North Carolina on Sept. 20, either. She resigned the same day.

Hening, 21, is from Midlothian, Va., and was a star player in high school. She joined the Virginia Tech team in 2018 and started as a freshman and sophomore.

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