Kiersten Hening Didn’t Kneel In Support Of BLM And Was Benched | Now Her Former VA Tech Coach Is Facing A Lawsuit

A judge recently ruled that a former Virginia Tech women’s soccer player can proceed with a lawsuit against her former coach after she was allegedly benched and felt pressured to leave the team for declining to kneel during a pregame social justice demonstration.

Why is Kiersten Hening Suing Her Former Coach At Virginia Tech?

Kiersten Hening is suing head coach Charles “Chugger” Adair on First Amendment grounds, which federal Judge Thomas Cullen has allowed to proceed to trial.

According to the lawsuit, Hening alleges Adair is not a fan of her political views and became furious when Hening refused to kneel in support of social justice movements, specifically the Black Lives Matter messsage.

The alleged incident that sparked the lawsuit occurred in 2020 after Hening declined to kneel during a reading of a “unity statement” before a game against University of Virginia.

The suit alleges Adair “berated” Hening at halftime, and again at a film-review session the following week, for “bitching and moaning” and “doing [her] own thing.”

Adair, who argued that two other players who declined to kneel did not face reduced playing time, moved to dismiss the lawsuit, which was declined.

Hening had been a major on field contributor the two years prior to 2020 and a starter, saw her playing time drastically reduced after the alleged incident.

Were Kiersten Hening’s First Amendment Rights Violated?

In his ruling Judge Cullen wrote that Hening’s First Amendment rights were adversely affected.

“The court concludes that there is sufficient evidence in the record supporting Hening’s claim that Adair’s actions, whatever his motives, adversely affected her First Amendment rights. In making this determination, the court applies an objective standard, asking whether “the defendant’s allegedly retaliatory conduct would likely deter ‘a person of ordinary firmness’ from the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

Sports has long served as a vehicle for culture wars, why should women’s collegiate soccer be any different.

If Adair berated and benched Hening for not kneeling, ultimately causing her to leave the team, he is wrong. As Cullen ruled that would be in violation of her First Amendment rights.

As the head coach it is Adair’s responsibility to place the needs of the entire team above any individual, including himself.

During the summer of unrest in 2020 it would have been wise of Adair to get ahead of everything. Knowing that there would be a push for a unified message, he could’ve met with the team and checked the pulse.

Why Wouldn’t Kiersten Hening Kneel In Support OF BLM?

Hening is a known conservative and supporter of Donald Trump. While those facts may not sit well with Adair, some of the staff and Hening’s teammates, it is her right to do so.

If Hening was supporting and promoting hate speech or racism or anything like that, there could have been an easy solve. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.

“Ultimately, Adair may convince a jury that this coaching decision was based solely on Hening’s poor play during the UVA game, but the court, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Hening, cannot reach that conclusion as a matter of law,” the district judge said.

Now she must prove to a jury that her version of events are what happened and that she was being punished for exercising her First Amendment rights.

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