Former soccer player Kiersten Hening has filed a lawsuit alleging that the Virginia Tech coach mistreated her after she refused to kneel with the rest of her team during a pledge of support to Black Lives Matter, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Monday.
“Hening’s stance was costly – too costly … 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 stated, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Ex-#Hokies women’s soccer player Kiersten Hening, a former James River star, has filed a federal lawsuit against Virginia Tech coach Chugger Adair, alleging her refusal to kneel before games led to him forcing her off the team.https://t.co/tSNcA6zqaA
— Mike Barber (@RTD_MikeBarber) April 19, 2021
The lawsuit aims to have coach Chugger Adair complete “First Amendment training” and have Hening return to the team. The suit also included an undisclosed amount of monetary compensation for Hening, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. (RELATED: The Entire Georgetown Team Kneels For the National Anthem, Proceeds To Lose By 23 Points)
21-year-old Hening joined the Virginia Tech soccer team in 2018 as a starting freshman. In the first game of the 2020 season, Hening and one other player stood during the Atlantic Coast Conference’s unity pledge while the rest of the team knelt as a sign of support for Black Lives Matter, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
The lawsuit claimed that during the opening game, “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 suit also claimed that Adair only targeted Hening because the parents of the other player who stood during the pledge “warned him not to retaliate against their daughter for opposing [Black Lives Matter],” the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Adair continued to berate Hening and she left the program after she didn’t start in the second and third games of the season. “Coach Adair’s campaign of abuse and retaliation made conditions for Hening so intolerable that she felt compelled to resign. Hening did not want to leave,” the lawsuit stated, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
In September of 2020, players across the NFL knelt during the national anthem in solidarity with racial justice movements. Several NCAA men’s basketball players knelt at the start of this year’s March Madness tournament in support of Black Lives Matter. However, American soccer star Carli Llyod made headlines when she refused to kneel during the national anthem in January.