Sunday, January 13, 2013

MHSAA Waivers: The Times Are A-Changing (Slowly!)

There is a heart-warming story in today's about a Pioneer high school girl, Elena Boudreau, who got a waiver from MHSAA to play high school sports even though she has passed the traditional age cutoff. Only two kids in the state have gotten waivers so far, and the other kid is Eric Dompierre from Ishpeming, whose father--Dean Dompierre--petitioned and campaigned to get the Michigan High School Athletic Association to change their rules. I wrote about this back in August--read the Free Press's story here.

[By the way, partly but not only because of Dompierre's story, Sports Illustrated named Ishpeming High School an Underdog of the Year, and you can read the SI story here. And here is the lovely SI photo essay.]

MHSAA has a history of not being able to see the forest for the trees. It took Dean Dompierre two-and-a-half years to get MHSAA to do something that half of the other states in the country had already figured out how to do! Read about another of MHSAA's decisions here that took years and years and years. (This one involves women's sports and Title IX.)

Interestingly enough, in the comments to the story there is a writer named Evergreen who states,
We went through the same thing with our 19 year old autistic daughter Asia and MHSAA in 2000. We had held her back one year entering middle school when we saw the teacher she was to have, would not pay any attention to Asia. MHSAA refused to let her participate in cross country and track in her senior year and she was usually qualifying in the top 6 runners most weeks. We even threatened to slip her in just before the start of the race because running was her number one interest, her number one claim to be a main stream student, and acceptance by her peers.
What finally made it happen was that Coach Steve Porter, who still coaches at Milan H.S. got all the other schools to sign off that she would run but not be counted. Perfect! Asia didn't care about placing, just running and being on a level playing field with class mates.
How important was the running to Asia? She has run EVERY DAY for 15 years averaging about 5 miles a day. She has run 134 races including 5K, 10K, 10 mile, 1/2 marathons and 3 full marathons. The 134 does not include high school where she lettered 4 years in track and CC or Special Olympics which she competed in for 5-6 years at the county and state levels.
We are certainly glad to see that the MHSAA can be educated also! [emphasis added]

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