Kiersten Hening has filed a federal lawsuit against Hokies women’s soccer coach Chugger Adair that alleges that after she refused to join her teammates kneeling before games this season, the coach engaged in a “campaign of abuse and retaliation” that led her to leave the program.
“Hening’s stance was costly – too costly,” the lawsuit, filed March 3, reads. “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.”
Hening had more to say about what happened in the lawsuit, via NBC:
“The suit states that Hening’s refusal to kneel came during the reading of an ACC unity statement read prior to Virginia Tech’s September 12 game at Virginia. The former Rapid remained standing while most other starters knelt during the reading of the statement. According to the court-filed document, one other starter stood as well, but that player’s parents informed Adair of her intention prior to the game and warned against retaliation. That player was also on scholarship.
“At the next opportunity- halftime of the Virginia game-Coach Adair berated Hening for her stance,” the lawsuit reads. “He singled her out and directly attacked her, pointing a finger in her face. He denounced Hening for ‘bitching and moaning,’ for being selfish and individualistic, and for ‘doing her own thing.’”
The former Virginia Tech women’s soccer player played all 90 minutes during the season opener, then 29 minutes the next game, but just five minutes versus North Carolina.
Hening says that while she supports social justice and believes that Black lives matter, she does not support the BLM organization. “She disagrees with its tactics and core tenets of its mission statement, including defunding the police and eliminating the nuclear family.”
In a jury trial, Hening is seeking the following:
- A judgment that Adair violated both her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights
- Be granted the ability to rejoin the team without any adverse action against her for exercising her First Amendment Rights
- Have Adair undergo First Amendment training
- Compensatory, punitive and nominal damages
- Have her legal fees paid for
Adair has been the Hokies’ head women’s soccer coach since 2010.
Hening started 19 of 22 games played as a freshman in 2018, 18 of 19 matches the following year.