The conflict escalated at a September 12 game against the University of Virginia, when [Kiersten] Hening’s teammates knelt during the reading of a unity pledge developed by the Atlantic Coast Conference‘s committee for racial and social justice. Hening remained standing, an act she claims sparked a “campaign of abuse.”
According to Hening, she was “verbally attacked” by her coach at halftime. Adair “singled her out and directly attacked her, pointing a finger in her face,” the lawsuit reads. “He denounced Hening for ‘bitching and moaning,’ for being selfish and individualistic, and for ‘doing her own thing.’”
Adair then benched Hening. Before the incident, she acted as a media spokesperson for the team and had played the most minutes of any athlete on the team. At the September 12 game, however, she played a total of five minutes.
Hening alleges she was continuously targeted by Adair and received considerably fewer minutes of playing time in ensuing games. By September 20, she had reached her breaking point: “Coach Adair’s campaign of abuse and retaliation made conditions for Hening so intolerable that she felt compelled to resign,” her lawsuit states. “Hening did not want to leave.”
In March, Hening filed the federal lawsuit against Adair, claiming his treatment violated her right to expressive conduct protected by the First and 14th Amendments. “Hening’s stance was costly—too costly,” the suit reads, “Her coach 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.”
Hening is suing Adair for undisclosed compensatory, punitive, and nominal damages. She also is seeking reinstatement on the soccer team and requesting that Adair receives training on the First Amendment.
Heh, indeed,™ on that last item.