Go Ahead and SUE: Va Tech Soccer Player Benched for NOT Taking a Knee

Maroon and orange, and red, white and blue.
Only recently have I become aware of Keirsten Hening’s lawsuit against the Virginia Tech women’s soccer coach, Charles Adair.
Ahh… but in today’s crazy world, this particular lawsuit isn’t about mean ol’ coach Adair hurting Hening’s feeling for benching her for poor performance on the field of play.
Not in the least. This is about Hening suing the coach due to him benching her for her refusal to “Take a knee” during an ACC-sanctioned “social-justice demonstration.”
Of course, Adair sought to have the lawsuit tossed. But bad news for the Hokies. A US District Judge has just given Heming the green light to proceed to trail.
As further detailed by reporter Jon Brown of Fox News via MSN.com (emphasis mine);

Hening alleged that Adair was not a fan of her political views and that she often differed from her teammates on social justice issues during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.

Hening further explained in the lawsuit that while she “supports social justice and believes that black lives matter,” she “does not support BLM the organization,” citing its “tactics and core tenets of its mission statement, including defunding the police.”

After Hening declined to kneel during a reading of a “unity statement” before a game against UVA on Sept. 12, 2020, she said Adair “verbally attacked her” at halftime, claiming she was “b–tching and moaning” while jabbing a finger in her face.

The coach continued to berate Hening until he benched her and ultimately made things so intolerable that she felt compelled to quit the team, according to the suit.

“Hening, who had been a major on-field contributor for two years prior to the 2020 season, also asserts that Adair removed her from the starting lineup for the next two games and drastically reduced her playing time in those games because she had engaged in this protected First Amendment activity. As a result, Hening resigned from the team after the third game of the season,” Cullen noted in his recent ruling.

Hening’s time on the field dropped off following the incident, the judge noted.

“As a freshman, Hening averaged 76 minutes of playing time; as a sophomore, nearly 88,” Cullen wrote. “But during the Clemson game [the next game after the kneeling incident], Hening only played 29 minutes, and, at the UNC game, just 5.”

Plaintiff Kiersten Hening, a former member of the Virginia Tech women’s soccer team, filed this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against her former coach, Charles “Chugger” Adair. Specifically, Hening alleges that, after she refused to kneel in support of social-justice
initiatives, including Black Lives Matter (“BLM”), prior to the team’s 2020 season opener against the University of Virginia (“UVA”), Adair retaliated against her in violation of the First Amendment. According to Hening, as a direct result of her refusal to kneel while a “Unity Statement”1 was read over the loudspeakers, Adair berated her at halftime in front of her.
1On September 3, 2020, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s (“ACC”) Committee for Racial and Social Justice announced that, in addition to creating an ACC Unity Symbol and implementing mandatory “diversity and inclusion training for student-athletes” focused on “anti-racism,” a Unity Statement would be read before every ACC event. This Unity Statement provided: “We, the ACC, are committed to seeing each other as equals, supporting each other, and treating each other with respect and dignity at all times, recognizing that our differences don’t divide us, but they make us stronger.” (ACC September 3, 2020 press release, TheACC.com (last visited Dec. 1, 2022).)
As this Unity Statement was read prior to the UVA game, all but three of the players and coaches from both teams kneeled in an apparent show of support. Hening and two of her teammates declined to kneel.

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