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Jericho High School Freshman Has Eye on International Gold

Eric Basile, one of the best young epee fencers in the nation, will be representing the United States at the 2010 Aramis International Team Championships held this May in Paris, France.

Basile has been added to the 2009-2010 men’s roster at the U.S. Olympic Training Program at The New York Athletic Club, where he is a member of The New York Athletic Club Men’s Epee Fencing Team for the 2009-2010 USFA season. Eric is being coached by four-time U.S. Olympic Team Fencing Coach, and Director of Fencing at Columbia University, Dr. Aladar Kogler. Dr. Kogler attended the Hungarian College of Higher Physical Education where he earned a Masters Degree in Fencing, and two Czechoslovakian institutions, Komensky University in Bratislava and Carl University in Prague, which awarded him a Ph.D. in Sports Psychology. While coaching the Czechoslovakian National Fencing Team, Kogler had huge success as eight of his students were World Championship finalists, and two were Olympic finalists, leading the Czech government to award him the highest coaching and teaching awards possible in 1972 and 1977. He has published 10 books and more than 25 scientific papers, and is the Director of the U.S. Olympic Committee-funded Sports Psychological Research Laboratory at Columbia University.

Basile is one of two youth division athletes (along with Signe Ferguson of NYC) who were hand-picked by Dr. Kogler to train for future Olympic and World Cup teams. “This is a long road that takes a tremendous commitment both physically and mentally”, commented Dr. Kogler, who has been tearing down and rebuilding Basile’s technique for the past 12 months. Basile continues to train with senior members of the U.S. Olympic and World Cup Fencing team in New York City. New York Athletic Club has produced over 143 Olympic Gold Medalists.

Basile spends nearly every day working out. There are four days of training at the New York Athletic Club where Eric works on his fencing technique with his coach. Then, there are personal training days in which workouts range from Pilates, kickboxing and fencing blindfolded, to more conventional cardio and weight-training exercises. Even on his off day (Saturday), Basile is usually preparing for, or participating in, national fencing competitions.

“It takes a lot of work but I’m motivated to work hard and make the World Team and the U.S. Olympic Team,” said Basile, who lives in Jericho. “It’s going to take a lot of practice, but that’s okay. Right now I fence with Olympians from the last three Olympics as well as current World Team members and you just can’t get that experience anywhere else in any other sport. It’s an honor.”

While Basile is on the road so much at regional and national competitions, he did not miss the high school fencing season. He has been able to train privately as well as with the Jericho High School fencing team. The Jericho Boys Fencing team finished second in the County led by Basile (epee) and Robert Leung (sabre).

In February, Eric was one of the very first junior fencers in the United States to receive the prestigious U.S. Fencing First Team All Academic-All American Award for maintaining a 3.89 cumulative GPA in high school. Last weekend, Eric took two Silver Medals at the USFA Super Youth Circuit events in New Jersey and Boston.

Basile started fencing in sixth grade and made the Jericho High School Varsity Fencing team in the seventh grade, and earned a position as starter in eighth grade. He developed an overall High School varsity record of 53 wins and 9 losses as a middle school student competing at the high school varsity level. Eric took fourth place in the Nassau County High School Individual Fencing Championships last season as an eighth-grader, and made the All Nassau County- Second Team for Section VIII Sports on behalf of Jericho. In national and regional competitions, he has won 41 gold medals, 10 silver medals and 11 bronze medals. He has been invited to fence in International competitions by the Swiss Fencing Federation in Switzerland, as well as in France and England. Eric is one of a four member team that will represent the United States in the highly competitive International Aramis Team Championships being held in Paris, France this May, during the Monan Fencing World Cup.

Fencing is a martial art- based sport combining intellect with physical skill. Physical conditioning includes weightlifting for strength, yoga for flexibility, and aerobic training for stamina. The objective in fencing is to score “hits” or “touches” against your opponent while avoiding your opponent’s attempts to hit you. Fencers are limited to a strip that is 40 feet long and 4 feet wide. Winners of each direct elimination bout advance through the grid, similar to the NCAA Basketball Tournament, until the final round featuring the two best fencers. Top eight finishers are awarded medals, and top three finishers received trophies, medals and other awards.

Fencing is a NCAA college scholarship sport as well, with many colleges such as St. Johns, NYU, Duke, Penn State, Ohio State, Vassar and Notre Dame offering full athletic scholarships to elite high school fencers. All Ivy League schools also boast historic and successful fencing programs such as Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Princeton and Columbia.