College soccer player awarded $100K to settle discrimination lawsuit after refusing to kneel with team

Kiersten Hening claimed Virginia Tech women's soccer coach Charles "Chugger" Adair punished her for her political views in 2020 during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.

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A former college soccer player claiming she faced discrimination after refusing to kneel with her teammates during the reading of a “unity statement” won $100,000 in a lawsuit filed in 2021.

Defender/midfielder Kiersten Hening alleged that Virginia Tech women’s soccer head coach Charles “Chugger” Adair punished her in 2020 for holding political views that frequently strayed from those of her teammates when the Black Lives Matter movement was at its peak, according to Fox News.

Hening asserted that after refusing to kneel before a game against the University of Virginia on Sept. 12, 2020, she was demoted from her starting position and pressured to quit the team. She claimed that Adair verbally attacked her during halftime, accusing her of “b—tching and moaning” while pointing his finger in her face.

Former Virginia Tech soccer player Kiersten Hening (left) has been awarded $100,000 in a discrimination lawsuit filed against head coach Charles Adair. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube.com/WTVR CBS6)

According to the lawsuit, Adair persisted in berating Hening until he benched her and eventually made things so uncomfortable she felt she had no choice but to leave the squad.

Hening said that while she “supports social justice and believes that Black lives matter,” she doesn’t support the organization, referencing its “tactics and core tenets of its mission statement, including defunding the police,” according to the lawsuit.

Federal Judge Thomas Cullen rejected a motion to dismiss the suit on Dec. 2, pointing out that Hening’s playing time decreased after the kneeling incident. Adair had contended that two other players who chose not to kneel did not have their playing time cut short.

“The people I care about and whose opinions matter to me know the truth,” Adair said via Twitter following the settlement.

“My team knows that in this particular case, prior to the UVA game, Ms. Hening was starting in a different position and had been replaced by a player who also stood during the ACC Unity statement,” he contended, offering thanks to Virginia Tech administrators, staff and athletes for their support. “It’s unfortunate, but this ordeal was about a disappointment and a disagreement about playing time.”

According to the Hokie Sports website, Hening, who joined the team in Jan. 2018, appeared in just three games in 2020 and charted 124 minutes for the season. She played in all 19 games the year before, starting the final 18 of the season and logging the second highest time among field players at 1,665 total minutes.

Hening’s attorney, Cameron Norris, said neither his client nor the coach is required to admit wrongdoing as part of the deal. Both the university and the state must approve the settlement before finalization.

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