On Tuesday, a former Virginia Tech soccer player won a lawsuit against her former coach after she was discriminated against based on her personal political beliefs.
In 2020, Kiersten Hening was in her third year on Virginia Tech’s soccer team, coached by Charles “Chugger” Adair. Ahead of one of their matches in September, a “unity statement” was read while the team knelt in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. While the rest of the team knelt, Hening refused and remained standing.
After this display, her coach allegedly “verbally attacked her” in front of her teammates and removed her from the team’s starting lineup, drastically decreasing her playing time as well.
Adair’s subsequent treatment of Hening reportedly became so “intolerable that she felt compelled” to leave the team.
Hening also reported that the atmosphere around the women’s soccer team was “toxic” and “suffocating.”
She filed a lawsuit against Adair in March 2021, claiming that he had violated her First Amendment rights. Adair agreed to a settlement payout of $100,000 which includes no admission of wrongdoing by the former coach.
Although the lawsuit was successful, 76 current and former Virginia Tech women’s soccer players released a joint statement that insisted Hening’s allegations against Adair were “baseless” and that they presented a “distorted representation of the facts.”
The statement was published on Monday and posted on Twitter. It says, in part,
“As current and former players, we understand women’s collegiate soccer is demanding both physically and mentally, as well as exceptionally competitive. In this regard, we all believe that [Adair’s] behavior, both past and present, has consistently been of the highest professional caliber. We believe that Coach Adair has and will continue to the best of his ability put the team in situations to compete at the highest level.
Finally, we understand that a lawsuit may be settled for a host of different reasons, none of which may be related to guilt or innocence. We firmly believe that these allegations are nothing more than a distorted representation of the facts.
[…] We stand by Coach Adair and Virginia Tech, and what we believe is the truth.”
— Sons of Saturday #Hokies (@SonsofSatVT) January 9, 2023
Coach Adair also released a statement earlier this month, saying, “I am pleased the case against me has been closed and I am free to move forward clear of any wrongdoing.”
“Today, we have the clarity that this case lacked any standing, and without evidence, the truth has prevailed,” he added.
Using some questionable logic, Adair has convinced himself that losing the lawsuit and settling for $100,000 is proof that he did nothing wrong.
After her win in court, Hening appeared on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle” where she spoke about her experience and explained why she had refused to kneel for BLM back in 2020.
“Personally, I didn’t feel like I needed to kneel in order to support something,” Hening said. “Personally, I felt like I could stand and be in support of something.”
Hening added that she felt the kneeling “was very synonymous with the Colin Kaepernick movement and BLM movement, and I didn’t feel like I needed to.”
“It’s unfortunate the political climate that was made in college sports – and not even college sports, but just everywhere, you know , putting this pressure on athletes who – personally, I don’t believe in politics having any place in sports,” said Hening.