The fight continues for 19 year old Eric Dompierre, a soon to be senior at Ishpeming High School in Michigan’s Central Upper Peninsula. A football and basketball player for the Ishpeming Hematites, Eric continues to awe local sports fans with not only his ability, but his drive to be the best athlete and student possible.
As TGIS’s Chris H. wrote earlier this month:
“Eric Dompierre is a teen with Down Syndrome who enjoys a healthy and exciting life through sports. However, due to an MHSAA rule that forbids an athlete to participate at the high school level if he or she turns 19 after September 1st, Eric cannot play his senior year because he began school later than his peers due to his disability.”
Thanks to the hard work of Team Let ‘Em Play and the Michigan Senate, things are taking a turn for the better. After convening in Lansing to testify in front of members of the Michigan legislature, Eric and his father Dean shared their testimony just minutes away from the MHSAA office. The MHSAA was not present at the testimony.
State Senator Tom Casperson of Escanaba and Eric’s district, who proposed a resolution to make changes to the constitution and invited Dean and Eric to Lansing, stood up for a positive change.
I am very pleased that both Eric and his father Dean were able to testify on the resolution,” said Casperson. “The testimony Dean offered was exceptional, and only outdone by that of his son. Father and son made a compelling, logical and emotional case as to why the MHSAA is out of step with its rigid age-eligibility policy and why it must act immediately to change it so that students like Eric are permitted to participate in athletics in their senior year.”
In listening to Eric and his father testify, it was apparent how important football and basketball are not only to him, but to his Hematite teammates, and why they have been such a key component of his scholastic success. For the MHSAA leadership to deny Eric and those like him their senior year of sports is no longer acceptable, and if the MHSAA won’t lead the State in making this change, the Legislature may have to do so.
Feeling the pressure from state government, good news came to Team Let ‘Em Play in early May. After lengthy opposition, the MHSAA sent out notification to its member schools of a proposal that would modify the groups consititution to allow a waiver in its age limit in “very narrowly-defined circumstances”. Schools will have a chance to vote up to today across the state to change the rule.
Today we talk to Dean Dompierre to get us up to date on what he is hearing from schools across the state of Michigan, the lengthy process that has led to today, and much more. Thanks to Dean for taking the time out to talk to us on 92.3 WJPD in Marquette, Michigan as well as here at TGIS. Please click here to follow along.
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