December 19, 2022

Judge Rules: Soccer Player can Sue Over Refusing to Kneel

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By Jackson Kincaid

The Background: 

A former soccer player has been cleared to continue her lawsuit against her former coach after he allegedly benched her for refusing to kneel during a pre-game demonstration. 

In Brief: 

Kiersten Hening, who was a midfielder and defender for the VA Tech Hokies from 2018 to 2020, sued coach Charles “Chugger” Aidair in 2021 on First Amendment grounds, which federal Judge Thomas Cullen announced on Dec. 2 can proceed to trial, according to the New York Post. 

Hening stated her differing political views made her a target for Aidair. Despite Hening saying she “supports social justice and believes that black lives matter,” she “does not support BLM the organization,” due to their “tactics and core tenets of its mission statement, including defunding the police.”

Hening has reported that Aidair verbally attacked her for refusing to kneel during a reading of a “unity statement” pregame, before ultimately reducing her field time. Judge Thomas Cullen stated. 

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

Notable Quotes: 

“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.” – Judge Thomas Cullen

 

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