Judge Approves Lawsuit By Ex-Virginia Tech Soccer Player Who Was Allegedly Benched For Refusing To Kneel During National Anthem

 December 12, 2022

Claiming she was benched for refusing to take a knee during the national anthem, former Hokies midfielder Kiersten Hening has been given the OK to sue coach Charles Adair, on First Amendment grounds. She has also been given to go-ahead to sue the school for violations of her freedom of speech.

U.S. District Judge Thomas T. Cullen agreed with the former Virginia Tech soccer player, giving her the OK to sue her former coach, for benching her because she refusing to join in with the team’s kneeling in 2020 as a “unity statement.” Fox News reported, that Hening filed a suit against the school and the coach last year, but the school filed a motion to have the lawsuit thrown out. On Dec. 2, Judge Cullen ruled that the suit could move forward.

Because she often found herself disagreeing with the coach and team’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Hening claims she was benched. According to Hening, Adair verbally attacked her repeatedly, after her political views began clashing with his. At that point he then he refused to even let her play.

Judge Cullen wrote in his ruling-

 “Hening, who had been a major on-field contributor for two years prior to the 2020 season, also asserts that Adair removed her from the starting lineup for the next two games and drastically reduced her playing time in those games because she had engaged in this protected First Amendment activity. As a result, Hening resigned from the team after the third game of the season,”

“As a freshman, Hening averaged 76 minutes of playing time; as a sophomore, nearly 88,” the judge continued. “But during the Clemson game [the next game after the kneeling incident], Hening only played 29 minutes, and, at the UNC game, just 5.”

-U.S. District Judge Thomas T. Cullen

Stating that the facts in the case tend to show, on the surface, that the coach retaliated against the player based on personal political views, not sports, the Trump-appointed judge, added that Hening’s right to her own political opinions is-

“the core constitutional principle… both clearly established and fundamental to a free society, and especially to an institution of higher education.”

-U.S. District Judge Thomas T. Cullen

That this Virginia Tech student and former collegiate soccer player, has faced this kind of political abuse by a soccer coach, which obviously has been sanctioned by the school – is a costly mistake. One hopes that in the name of denying her constitutional freedoms, Ms. Hening and her parents make this suit financially count.

The arrogance of this coach needs brought into the light of day as well as the permissive policies of Virginia Tech. While she may never get to play the games, that she was deprived of, hopefully, this suit will in some way restore her faith in our constitution and the bill of rights, which should never be trampled by anyone – least of all a politically motivated coach, in an institution of higher learning.

"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards. And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks."

-Samuel Adams
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