Ex-Virginia Tech soccer player sues coach for ‘retaliation’ after she didn’t kneel in racism protest


A former Virginia Tech soccer player is suing her old coach for allegedly launching a ‘campaign of abuse and retaliation’ over her refusal to kneel in protest of racism.

Kiersten Hening, a former non-scholarship player for the Hokies, filed a federal lawsuit against Virginia Tech coach Chugger Adair, saying he targeted her because he ‘dislikes Hening’s political views.’

‘Because she refused to kneel, he benched her, subjected her to repeated verbal abuse, and forced her off the team,’ read the lawsuit obtained by DailyMail.com.

Kiersten Hening (pictured), a former non-scholarship player for Virginia Tech, filed a federal lawsuit against coach Chugger Adair, saying  he ‘dislikes Hening’s political views’

Charles 'Chugger' Adair is one of the most successful soccer coaches in the ACC, compiling a record of 126-62-20 over his 10 seasons with the Hokies. Under his guidance, the team has made seven NCAA appearances, but fell to 8-9 in 2020-21 after suffer a season-ending loss to Auburn on Saturday

Charles ‘Chugger’ Adair is one of the most successful soccer coaches in the ACC, compiling a record of 126-62-20 over his 10 seasons with the Hokies. Under his guidance, the team has made seven NCAA appearances, but fell to 8-9 in 2020-21 after suffer a season-ending loss to Auburn on Saturday

The lawsuit, which was filed on March 3 but only surfaced recently, explains that Hening’s soccer career ended, not because of her performance on the field, but because of her political beliefs. 

‘As a result of her coach’s actions, Hening can no longer play the game she loves, despite having two more years of NCAA eligibility,’ the lawsuit reads. ‘This Court should vindicate Hening’s constitutional rights and award her legal and equitable relief.’

In addition to unspecified financial rewards for compensatory, punitive and nominal damages, as well as lawyer fees, Hening is also seeking a ruling ordering Adair to ‘undergo First Amendment training.’

A Virginia Tech spokesman did not make Adair available for an interview, telling DailyMail.com that the school is not commenting on the lawsuit at this time.

Only Adair — and not the school itself — is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The program’s all-time leader in wins, Adair is being represented by school attorneys, the Virginia Tech spokesman confirmed.

A former walk-on, the 21-year-old Hening earned a starting role for the Hokies as a freshman and sophomore in 2018 and 2019, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Chugger Adair pictures coaching the Virginia Tech women's soccer team

Chugger Adair pictures coaching the Virginia Tech women’s soccer team 

She claims her status within the team began to suffer in 2020.

Following the Hokies’ opener against rival Virginia, nearly all of the Virginia Tech players knelt in protest of racism while a ‘unity statement’ from the Atlantic Coast Conference was read on the loudspeaker in response to the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

However, Hening and a few other players continued standing.  

‘All starters, including Hening, were standing on the field at the time,’ the lawsuit reads. ‘While other starters knelt during the unity statement to mirror [former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 protests] and express support for [the Black Lives Matter movement], Hening remained standing.’

Hening claims Adair responded with open hostility at halftime, targeting her, instead of the other players who remained standing, because she was not a scholarship athlete.

‘At the next opportunity — halftime of the Virginia game — Coach Adair berated Hening for her stance,’ the lawsuit continues. ‘He singled her out and verbally attacked her, pointing a finger directly in her face. He denounced Hening for ”b****ing and moaning,” for being selfish and individualistic, and for ”doing her own thing.”

‘Coach Adair’s tirade was so extreme, so personally directed at Hening, and so disconnected from the game itself, that her teammates approached her afterward to comfort her and express their shock.’

Hening claims her status within the team began to suffer in 2020 following the Hokies' opener against rival Virginia when nearly all of the Virginia Tech players knelt in protest of racism while a 'unity statement' from the Atlantic Coast Conference was read on the loudspeaker in response to the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd

Hening claims her status within the team began to suffer in 2020 following the Hokies’ opener against rival Virginia when nearly all of the Virginia Tech players knelt in protest of racism while a ‘unity statement’ from the Atlantic Coast Conference was read on the loudspeaker in response to the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd

While Hening claims in her lawsuit that she ‘supports social justice and believes black lives matter,’ she makes it clear that she does not support the BLM movement.

Hening’s opposition to BLM first surfaced prior to the 2020 Virginia game when she expressed concerns about the movement – and the team’s response to growing racial unrest – in a series of private social media exchanges with teammates.

‘Someone took a screenshot of some of these private messages between girls on the team and shared them with the coaching staff,’ the lawsuit reads. ‘Some of Hening’s teammates also saw the messages and became outraged.’

Players on the team allegedly called on Adair in September of 2020 to demand that he address Hening’s comments on social media.

Following the Virginia game, Hening lost her starting role, prompting her to quit the team entirely.

‘Coach Adair’s campaign of abuse and retaliation made conditions for Hening so intolerable that she felt compelled to resign,’ the lawsuit reads. ‘Hening did not want to leave.’

Charles ‘Chugger’ Adair is one of the most successful soccer coaches in the ACC, compiling a record of 126-62-20 over his 10 seasons with the Hokies. Under his guidance, the team has made seven NCAA appearances, but fell to 8-9 in 2020-21 after suffer a season-ending loss to Auburn on Saturday.

Hening claims Adair benched her over her political views and not her play on the field

Hening claims Adair benched her over her political views and not her play on the field 



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