Ishpeming High School
- LOCATION: Ishpeming, Michigan
- MASCOT: Hematites
- COLORS: Blue and White
Congratulations to Ishpeming High! The story of Eric Dompierre and the Hematites won the vote for your favorite Underdog school. Ishpeming will receive a $25,000 grant and a trip to New York City to attend the annual Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award event.
For the fifth installment of the "Underdogs" series, SI.com travels to Ishpeming High in Michigan, where a school and its kicker are giving hope to a community. Eric Dompierre, a 19-year-old student with Down syndrome, was previously ruled ineligible for high school athletics. The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) had regulations in place that barred any person who turned 19 before Sept. 1 from competing, and Dompierre, whose birthday falls over the summer and whose disabilities caused him to be held back twice early in his school career, landed on the wrong side of that deadline. He would be forced to watch from the stands instead of joining his teammates and friends on the sidelines.
An underdog his whole life, Dompierre was dealt another setback. But he and his father, Dean, didn’t give up. They took to their case to state lawmakers with hopes of creating age-limit exemptions for students with disabilities.
In August, their persistence paid off. After more than two and a half years of petitioning the school and MHSAA, the Dompierres received the news: Eric’s request for a waiver to keep playing football for Ishpeming had been granted.
Following last weekend’s victory against Westwood, Mich., Ishpeming is 4-0. Here is the team -- and Eric’s -- story.