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      Victory for the Dompierre family

      The Dompierre family in Ishpeming was all smiles on Thursday as the Michigan High School Athletic Association approved an age waiver amendment.

      That decision could let Eric Dompierre, a 19-year-old Ishpeming High School student with Down Syndrome, play football and basketball in his senior year.

      When asked about his first reaction when he heard the news, Eric said, "I was amazed because there are lots of people on Facebook that I know and don't know, and they supported me through all of this."

      Eric is 19 years old, and if the amendment hadn't been passed, he wouldn't be able to hit the field and court with his teammates for this upcoming school year.

      The MHSAA left the decision up to its member schools, asking them to vote on an amendment that would allow age waivers for students who meet specific circumstances.

      "The affirmative results reflect two things. First, that the proposal was well-conceived, and second, the council members themselves turned many of their constituents' votes from no to yes. This proposal would not have passed without the council's proactive efforts," said MHSAA Executive Director Jack Roberts.

      Ninety-four percent of member schools approved the amendment, making it the 24th state in the country to allow waivers for students with disabilities.

      "That's all we wanted was just a shot at letting the schools actually decide for themselves as to how they want to run their sports program, and this is how they want their sports program run," said Dean Dompierre, Eric's dad.

      "I just want to say thank you for everyone who supported me through all of this with my cause," Eric added.

      Dean Dompierre, who has been trying to change the MHSAA rule since Eric started high school, says his fight is all part of being a parent.

      "I don't think it's anything that any other parent wouldn't do if they were in the same situation. It's just a matter of keeping the faith and believing what you're doing. And I think things are meant to happen, and this was just meant to happen," Dean said.

      The MHSAA requires school districts to submit an application, then a committee will review the student's disability.

      The next step in Eric's athletic career as a Hematite is training for the upcoming football season. But as for this weekend, he'll be celebrating with his friends and family.