Eric Dompierre loves sports, especially basketball. In fact, this week, he earned our "Play of the Week" with a shot against Negaunee, Michigan in the District Final.
Eric never let the fact that he was born with Down Syndrome stop him from playing. But now, he may have to cheer on his team from the bleachers. It's a battle between Eric's family and the Michigan High School Athletic Association .
The association says because he's 19 years old, he isn't allowed to play in his senior year of high school.
"I'd be sad if I couldn't play with them and not have them in my life. They want me to play, and I want to play with them," said Eric.
According to the MHSAA handbook, students aren't allowed to participate in any school sport if they are above 19 years of age. Because of his disability, Eric got a late start in elementary school, making him older than his classmates.
His dad, Dean, and the Ishpeming School District have submitted two proposed revisions to the rule, but the association turned them down.
"He gets a lot of his confidence from the fact that he gets in the games, and he has a lot of support, not only from people here in Ishpeming, but people from all over the area are supportive of him. If he's told that he's not allowed to play anymore, I think he's going to lose a lot of that confidence. And that's been a key to his development," said Eric's dad, Dean Dompierre.
The MHSAA responded to the Dompierre's proposals, in part, by saying: "After a very thorough review, it was determined that there should be no change to the MHSAA constitution."
Ishpeming High School will be making their third proposal to the MHSAA in hopes that it will convince them to let Eric play in his senior year. And if they don't pass it, he'll be watching from the sidelines.
In the newest proposal, they're asking to model Michigan guidelines off Ohio's High School Athletic Association , where it waives the age rule for students with disabilities.
Twenty-three other states allow students who suffer from disabilities to play high school sports after the age of eighteen.
But for now, Eric's future on the team is uncertain.
"In the districts against Negaunee, he got in right off the bench. He buried a shot, nothing but net, and that place went crazy. As a coach, you couldn't ask for more. It's such a good feeling. There's things that happen in life and everything, and that's going to be one of the top moments for sure," said Ishpeming Varsity Basketball coach Bob Salisbury.
To view the latest proposal, click here. A petition has been started to give Eric the chance to play basketball his senior year. If you would like him to have a chance to play basketball his last year of high school, his family asks that you please go sign the petition .
What do people in the community have to say about this? We asked on Facebook, and here are some of the comments we have received.
"Shame, shame, on the MHSAA," said Cathy Jarski-Kohring. "For heaven's sake, some rules are meant to be not only bent, but broken. They obviously are more intent on following their rules than their hearts! Come on people...let's make a loud noise against their callous decision and in favor of Eric! Post and repost and repost again!"
"It's sad, he should be allowed to play," stated Facebook fan Danielle Adams. "The poor kid wants a chance to play; not like the team will have an advantage or anything. He deserves an equal shot like everyone else playing high school sports."