Male Athlete of the Year: James Record

  • James Record, a member of the Conant Class of 2017, was a soccer, baseball and basketball star for the Orioles over his four years. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • James Record, a member of the Conant Class of 2017, was a soccer, baseball and basketball star for the Orioles over his four years. Staff photo by Ben Conan

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Record gets two during this year’s Hoops for Hope game against ConVal in the banner-filled Pratt Auditorium. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • James Record pitches in his final game for Conant, against Belmont in the Final Four. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Conant boys' soccer team hosts Hopkinton on Oct. 18, 2016. (Ben Conant / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, July 03, 2017 11:31AM

It was running through his veins from day one. The son of two star Conant athletes, James Record, has been immersed in the Oriole culture since the day he was born, and it was only fitting that he would grow into a leader.

“My whole family is just built around Conant,” Record said, on the sidelines of Humiston Field, where he’d watched and played countless baseball games over the years. “For me to just come in, watch all the games, there’s nothing better. I wanted to play for than this school. There’s no question that I bleed orange and black, and it goes deep into my blood and I was happy to fulfill that.”

The Conant title town tradition got its start in the ‘80s, where Ron Record and Lisa Bumpus played sports in all three seasons and the Orioles won championships in both boys’ and girls’ basketball in 1985. And it was that tradition that James — known to most as JP — was born into.

“My dad definitely brought the competitiveness out of me and the character that I brought to the field,” Record said. “That just drove me more and more and more to be the best athlete to step on the court or on the field or anywhere, and to be a better person, too.”

And it would be impossible to see Record out there giving it all and not think of Lisa.

“My mom is the heart and soul,” Record said. “When I play the game, I play with a lot of heart, and that comes from her. I feel like whenever she played, that she definitely left it all on the field, and I feel like that’s where my passion came from.”

Record came into high school at the tail end of one of Conant’s dominant basketball runs, a freshman as the Orioles beat Campbell in the title game for the second straight season. You’ll still catch JP wearing that “Back-To-Back Champions” shirt

“It’s something that I’ll hold forever,” he said.

But after that, Conant wouldn’t win a title for the rest of Record’s career — something he said felt “unnatural,” given the success he’d grown up watching. As his teams went down in the finals to Pelham, then in the Final Four to Kearsarge, and then out at Somersworth this year. Record was the epitome of a leader and gracious in defeat.

Perhaps no better game sums up Record’s time at Conant than this year’s regular season game at Kearsarge. The defending champs were on a roll, and their 6-foot-7 big man was on the verge of scoring his 1,000th career point.

“When it’s David vs. Goliath like at Kearsarge, no one thought we had a chance in that game, even going into it,” Record said. “The kids playing Conant ball, they have the heart and passion to win. You’ve really got to grind, and if you sit down and lay over, it just proves that you didn’t really want to play.”

With Conant down 46-15 at one point, Record showed no signs of quitting. He’d score 19 of his team-high 26 in the second half, carrying the Orioles to striking distance before they ultimately fell.

“He said ‘Get on my back, you’ve got to play fearless,’ and that spread through that team,” said Kearsarge coach Nate Camp at the time.

Record carried that fearlessness onto the baseball field, where he pitched for the last two years, propelling the Orioles to a No. 2 seed in 2016 and then a Final Four run in 2017. Head coach Josh Heaphy called him a born leader and the “smartest kid I ever coached.”

“He was the one guy we could always count on,” Heaphy said. “When he went out there, you knew that for the most part we were going to win that baseball game.”

Whenever Record was on the court, or the diamond, for Conant, he was never alone. Always somewhere in the back of his mind was the legacy of his older brother, Stephen, who died in a car accident on the way to the Keene State holiday basketball tournament in 2007. Conant was in the midst of five straight titles at that point, and Record said he learned how to be a good teammate from watching Stephen and those Oriole teams gel. Record would wear Stephen’s shoes when he started in his own KSC tournament, winning the award created in his late brother’s honor, and put on the No. 21 as a tribute.

“It's always special to carry something that was his and carry it with you, it feels like he's playing with you,” Record said.

His brother’s death put things into perspective for Record, teaching him not to sweat the small stuff and to take advantage of every little moment.

“I will always appreciate what he did,” Record said. “Will I try to be like him? Of course I will. But there's no question he left me my own path to take on.”

Now, Record’s path as a high school athlete is over. He can keep with him a basketball championship, a nearly unprecedented soccer playoff berth, a slew of successful baseball teams and most of all — lasting friendships.

“I feel like sports here really brought me closer to a lot of people,” Record said. “Nothing better than playing with your best friends, playing a fun game. Friendship is pretty key, and when that friendship turns into a good teammate, it’s the best. I have friendships from here that I’ll have forever, and that’s something that I’m pretty grateful for.”

Record will be reunited with longtime best friend Nate Wheeler — son of Ben and Ann, another product of the ‘85 title teams — next year, when he attends Xavier for operations management. But no matter how far he goes, he’ll always call Conant home.

“There’s something about this place that people keep drawing to,” Record said. “This isn’t the best field in the world, but it’s what we played on, it’s not the best court in the world, but we still go there and watch the games. It’s something that will stick with me forever, same with all the alumni. It sucks you in and you can’t get away from it but I don’t mind it at all.”