Former Virginia Tech soccer player says she was forced off team for refusing to kneel Nine Line News Team April 21, 2021 Nine Line News 528 Kiersten Hening, a student at Virginia Tech, has filed a federal lawsuit against soccer coach, Charles “Chugger” Adair, claiming that, “because she refused to kneel, he benched her, subjected her to repeated verbal abuse, and forced her off the team.” Hening, now a junior at Virginia Tech, was a starter on defense during her freshman and sophomore years. Her suit claims Adair violated her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Virginia Tech is part of the ACC. Hening’s issues began in September, 2020 when the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Committee for Racial and Social Justice (CORE – Champions of Racial Equity) announced three initiatives: • Mandatory diversity and inclusion training for student-athletes, athletic department and conference staff • Creation of ACC Unity Symbol as a visual representation of solidarity among the ACC’s 15 institutions • ACC Unity Statement to be read prior to every league contest. The Unity Statement reads: “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.” Prior to the start of the first game of the season on Sept. a12, 2020, Hening and one other play remained standing while other starters knelt as the Unity Statement was read. According to the lawsuit, during halftime Adair, “singled (Hening) out and verbally attacked her, pointed a finger directly in her face.” The lawsuit explained that the other player who didn’t kneel wasn’t singled out because she was on a scholarship and her parents had called Adair to request he not retaliate against their daughter for opposing Black Lives Matter. For the next game, Hening was removed from the starting lineup and assigned a position she had previously never played in college. Then, during a post-game team meeting, Adair again yelled at Hening. She didn’t start the next game either and played only five minutes. The lawsuit states that “Coach Adair’s campaign of abuse and retaliation made conditions for Hening so intolerable that she felt compelled to resign. Hening did not want to leave; but, given no real choice, she resigned on September 20.” According to the lawsuit, Adair was strongly supportive of the ACC’s equality pledge and even suggested players should wear the names of victims of alleged police misconduct on their jerseys. His direct supervisor, senior associate athletic director Reyna Gilbert-Lowery, “is a vocal supporter of (Black Lives Matter.)” The lawsuit states, “while Hening supports social justice and believes that black lives matter, she does not support the BLM organization. She disagrees with its tactics and core tenets of its mission statement, including defunding the police and eliminating the nuclear family.” How do you think this will go?