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Student-Athlete With Down Syndrome Allowed to Play His Senior Year

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Eric Dompierre, a 19-year-old Michigan student-athlete with Down syndrome, will be allowed to participate on his high school's football and basketball teams, the Michigan High School Athletic Association announced today.

Dompierre exceeds the MHSAA's traditional age limit, which bars students who turn 19 before Sept. 1 from participating in school sports. (He turned 19 this past January.) However, the MHSAA approved a rule change earlier this year which allows the age limit to be waived under extremely limited circumstances.

Before the rule change, the MHSAA's age limit was the only rule not subject to waivers, according to the organization's constitution.

Of the MHSAA's 1,535 member schools, 701 replied to a survey earlier this year asking about the potential rule change, with 94 percent in favor.

Student-athletes with disabilities are only eligible for a one-year waiver on the age limit if they've been held back a grade before high school strictly because of a medically documented disability, and the student-athlete must still have the same disability at the time of the waiver request.

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Dompierre is a rising senior at Ishpeming High School, who plays both football and basketball for the school. His family officially applied for a waiver earlier this summer.

Dean Dompierre, Eric's father, told the Associated Press that he learned of the decision today.

Before the MHSAA issued their decision this week, Dompierre was seen practicing with the football team, where he plays mostly special teams, according to the Detroit Free Press.

I've embedded a couple of pictures of Dompierre practicing within the post, but the Free Press has an extensive gallery, for those of you looking for more.

Photos (from top): Eric Dompierre arrives on the field earlier this week for the first day of practice with the Ishpeming High School football team in Ishpeming, Mich. Dompierre, 19, started school late because of his Down syndrome genetic disorder. (Andre J. Jackson/Detroit Free Press/AP)

Eric Dompierre catches a ball during the first day of football team practice earlier this week. (Andre J. Jackson/Detroit Free Press/AP)

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