After spending a Sunday afternoon with Eric Dompierre and his parents it’s clear that they’re extremely grateful that Eric has always been included.
Eric Dompierre has Down syndrome, but he’s been welcome to play sports with other kids in Ishpeming Michigan since he was in elementary school.
“We didn’t know how far he’d go, how many coaches would keep him on the team,” says Dean Dompierre, Eric’s father.
When he got to high school, Eric was invited to keep playing. Now he’s on both the Ishpeming High School football and basketball teams. He attends every practice and works out with the other players and if it’s appropriate he plays a few minutes at the end of the game.
During this season’s basketball playoffs Eric brought the house down. The team after maintaining a nice lead put Eric in the game and he hit a three-point shot against rival Negaunee High School.
“I was on the left side behind the three-point line and they passed me the ball,” Dompierre says smiling as he recounts the game. “I heard the fans, including my mom crying.”
Eric’s father was in the stands with his camera and captured the amazing reaction.
“I videotaped the crowd on the other side and it was made up of mostly Negaunee fans including their student section and they were all on their feet cheering for Eric.”
The same thing happened when Eric kicked his first extra point for the football team towards the end of the game two years ago.
“I was amazed that he even had the opportunity to kick, and then when he did it, I thought woo-hoo! And then watching the kids react, they carried him off the field; it was just one of the best moments,” recalls Eric’s mother, Jill Dompierre.
Even though Eric is only a junior, his high school sports career may be over. Eric turned 19 in January, which puts him six months over the maximum age limit to play. Eric was held back in kindergarten because of his disability.