Virginia Tech Soccer Player Benched For Refusing To Kneel, Awarded $100K

A former Virginia Tech soccer player who alleges that her coach benched her after she refused to kneel before a game, is going to get a $100,000 settlement.

Kiersten Hening was a midfielder for the Virginia Tech women's soccer team between 2018 and 2020. She alleges that the team's head coach Charles "Chugger" Adair took away her starting spot after she refused to kneel for a pre-game "unity statement" ahead of a game against UVA in September 2020.

She said that her political beliefs led to her coach berating her during halftime. Hening allegedly wagged his finger in her face and accused her of "bitching and moaning." After the game, Hening claims that she was benched and pressured to leave the team.

The ex-Hokies midfielder claims that things got so out of hand that she did ultimately leave the team.

Hening filed a lawsuit in 2021 on the grounds that Adair had violated her First Amendment rights. In the suit, Hening explained her support for social justice. However, she clarified that she "does not support BLM the organization," pointing to the organization's "tactics and core tenets of its mission statement, including defunding the police."

Virginia Tech And Adair Tried To Get The Case Thrown Out

Back in December, there was a motion to reject the lawsuit. Adair pointed to two other players who chose not to kneel but did not lose starting spots. However, the judge rejected that motion citing a noticeable dip in Hening's playing time after she chose not to kneel.

"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," federal Judge Thomas Cullen ruled.

The settlement comes without any admission of wrongdoing from either party. The three-day trial scheduled for later this month was canceled.

Adair tweeted his relief that the suit had reached its end.

In his tweet, Chugger seems to take a victory lap. He claimed that "the case lacked any standing, and without evidence, the truth has prevailed."

However, remember, there was enough evidence for a federal judge to not throw out the case. Virginia Tech just decided to cut a deal to make it go away.

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