Eric Dompierre will officially get to finish his football career at Ishpeming High School.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced today that Dompierre’s request to waive the maximum age rule has been approved.
Dompierre, who has Down syndrome, turned 19 in January. That birthday put him at odds with the MHSAA, the governing body for the state’s high school athletic programs that dictates no student shall compete in any athletic competition if they turn 19 before Sept. 1.
Dompierre’s father, Dean Dompierre, managed to convince the MHSAA and its member schools to change its bylaws and allow students with certain disabilities to apply for a waiver if they were too old. Dompierre and his father got the rule changed, and they applied for a waiver earlier this summer.
“Jill and I are extremely proud of how Eric was willing to advocate for himself and for others in his shoes,” Dean Dompierre wrote in an e-mail to the Free Press. “We’re also very thankful to those people across Michigan and the nation who stepped forward to sign our petition, write letters, and/or spread the word in support of these young people. We appreciate the willingness of school personnel across Michigan to include them in high school athletics alongside their classmates for a full four years.
“We’re especially happy for those other students who were able to secure their own waiver for next year. We wish them luck throughout their sports seasons.”
Eric Dompierre began practicing with Ishpeming team Monday when schools were allowed to begin football practice. Dompierre, a 5-foot-2, 140-pound receiver, is a senior playing on the team for a fourth straight season.