Kylan Mabins
Kylan Mabins (Photo submitted by Darline Mabins. Stadium photo by Rance Burger)

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A Monday court hearing for high school quarterback Kylan Mabins, who transferred from Kickapoo to Glendale, revealed that Mabins and his family were perhaps more connected to Glendale coaches than previously revealed. The hearing also revealed Mabins allegations that the Kickapoo program might be more racist and homophobic than Springfield Public Schools has indicated.

Mabins, a senior at Glendale, was the starting quarterback at Kickapoo his sophomore and junior years, but transferred to Glendale in March of 2023.

Glendale runs a spread offense, passes more and is more attractive to many quarterbacks, but Mabins and his parents say the transfer had nothing to do with sports.

Kickapoo protested the transfer, arguing that Glendale coaches had undue influence in Mabins’ decision. As a result, the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) ruled in July that Mabins is ineligible to play varsity sports this year.


Lawyer says going to court was only shot in fighting MSHSAA

Mabins and his parents have filed a petition in circuit court to ask a judge to grant a preliminary injunction to allow Mabins to play. The season is well under way; Glendale is 3-1.

“You are the only shot we have with MSHSAA, Judge” said Jay Kirksey, representing Mabins.

Monday was the first day on the bench for recently-appointed Greene County Circuit Judge Derek Ankrom. Mabins was the only witness to take the stand Monday morning. The court hearing will resume Sept. 19.

Mabins says his transfer to Glendale was because of a culture of racism and homophobia in the Kickapoo football program. Mabins is Black.

The quarterback said one of the Kickapoo football coaches once told him he needed to throw the ball to more than one main receiver. The coach made this point, according to Mabins, by asking if he and the favored receiver were “lovers.”

Attorney Mallory Mayse, representing MSHSAA, then asked Mabins if the coach was being “facetious.”

Mabins stood his ground and said no, the coach was being “demeaning.”

Mabins also said that after he lost a sprint race to the white quarterback who was his backup, a Kickapoo coach said to him, “I thought Black guys were supposed to be fast.”

At times, it was difficult to know if Mabins was talking about Kickapoo head coach Nate Thomas or a former assistant coach named Luke Miller, who is no longer on the Kickapoo football coaching staff.

Regardless, Mabins made it clear he thought Thomas was part of the problem.

Mabins holds in ground in courtroom

This is Derek Ankrom
Derek Ankrom was appointed to serve as a circuit judge for the 31st Judicial Circuit. (Photo provided by Spencer Fane LLP)

Mabins said it was Miller who walked into the Kickapoo High School weight room one day when Mabins and other Black athletes were working out and playing rap music.

According to Mabins, Miller said, “You people might listen to this music, but when I’m in here, I’m not going to listen to it.”

Mabins insisted in court that Mayse, the MSHSAA attorney, was misrepresenting his complaint when reading it out loud by leaving out part of his statement.

“Read the whole thing,” Mabins told the attorney.

Mayse eventually conceded that he had left out the part of the story that the music in question was rap music. Mayse then asked Mabins, “Was it loud?”

“Not to me,” Mabins said.

Mabins also said after he made a bad decision as quarterback, Thomas once asked him what his grade-point average was.

Mabins told him it was 3.5. According to Mabins, Thomas said, “That surprises me.”

He says his grades and mental health suffered

In January 2023, Mabins said, he started to see a therapist because his grades had declined due to what he called a “toxic environment” in the Kickapoo football program. He said he had started getting anonymous calls, and the caller would call him a racial slur.

In March, Mabins said, he and his parents agreed he should transfer to Glendale.

Kickapoo protested the transfer, saying Mabins was enticed by former Glendale coaches Mike Mauk and Ben Mauk.

After the transfer, the Mabins family filed a complaint to the human resources office at Springfield Public Schools alleging retaliation. They believe the only reason Kickapoo challenged Kylan Mabins’ eligibility was because he had reported racial discrimination at Kickapoo.

Mabins practiced with the Glendale team at summer football camps. At the time, Mike Mauk, hired in 2014, was the Falcons head coach. His son Ben, a former quarterback at the University of Cincinnati and Wake Forest, was an assistant.

In August, the Mauks were relieved of their Glendale coaching duties for undeclared reasons, but their departure was soon after MSHSAA concluded the Mauks had undue influence in luring Mabins to Glendale.

Mabins says he first met Maty Mauk not through football, but through church

Mabins said he trained with another Mauk — Maty Mauk, a former Mizzou quarterback and also a son of Mike Mauk — the summer after Mabins finished seventh grade. Mabins said his family knew Maty Mauk through church.

The MSHSAA attorney and Ransom Ellis, the SPS attorney, pressed Mabins on the fact that he said he had never heard of Mauk Academy, which provides training for quarterbacks. “How could that be?” they asked, when they had a screenshot of a Facebook post from years ago of Mabins with Maty Mauk on the Mauk Academy Facebook page.

Kirksey said there was a simple explanation. When Mabins attended the camp it was called “Higher Power Ministries” and then later, when the name was changed to “Mauk Academy,” all prior posts were changed from “Higher Power Ministries” to “Mauk Academy.”

Mabins and Kirksey said that Mabins had no contact with the Mauks once he started at Kickapoo in August 2020, but there appeared to be evidence to the contrary.

Ellis referred, in court, to an email or text that he said was written by Mabins’ father, Sean.

It is dated Dec. 17, 2020, and it apparently says, “Bird is throwing with Ben at 4:45.”

“Bird” is Kylan’s nickname and “Ben” refers to Ben Mauk. This would have been during Kylan Mabins’ freshman year at Kickapoo.

Sean and Darline Mabins, Kylans’ parents, were excluded from the courtroom Monday because they might be called as witnesses on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

In other words, Sean Mabins has not yet had an opportunity to comment on the message he allegedly sent.

SPS attorney says law firm hired to look into allegations of racial discrimination

In the summer before Kylan Mabin’s freshman year, he went to the Glendale football camp because he planned, even back then, to transfer to Glendale.

But he and his parents ultimately decided he would attend Kickapoo, the high school in his home attendance boundary, after someone in SPS administration pointed out that he could lose his athletic eligibility if he transferred.

Ellis at one point Monday said it would be inaccurate to say that Kylan Mabins’ allegations of racial discrimination were not investigated by the school district. He said SPS hired a St. Louis law firm to investigate.

Kirksey questioned the validity of that hiring or any investigation, because no one from the Mabins family was ever interviewed.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin