Michael Watkins/Courier Lancer first basemen Jeremy Conant poses in the dugout on March 14, 2017.
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Rancho Cucamonga native Jeremy Conant has been around baseball all his life. From playing tee-ball at five years old to travel ball to breaking records at PCC, what has remained consistent is the support of his family and love for the game.

When his father, Ken, found out that baseball was the game he wanted to play, he would go practice with Jeremy and his brother. Ken also went out of his way to coach Conant’s little league and travel ball teams.

“He always practiced with us whenever he could,” Conant said. “I could tell that he loved being a part of it all.”

Growing up watching baseball on television and playing on the field at both Alta Loma Jr. High and high schools, Conant would listen to his father speak about MLB and all of the players he grew up watching when he was young. Conant grew a liking for the San Francisco Giants’ Barry Bonds, who eventually became his hero and favorite player of all time. The two are lefties.

“I think it’s safe to say that (my dad) has had a huge impact on me because he’s responsible for many things, like my love for the Giants, being a lefty hitter, and my passion for the game,” Conant said.

Conant continued his love for baseball at Pasadena City College in the 2015-16 season, where he was recruited by head coach Patrick McGee, who usually scouts for players in the San Gabriel Valley area.

“I was extremely impressed once we got him on the field with his athleticism for a big guy,” McGee said.

Before Conant came to PCC, the Lancers had their own struggles with losses for a number of seasons. In many cases, players leaving high school consider the stats of the team before making their final decision on which school to attend. For Conant, it wasn’t like that. In fact, it was the complete opposite — he never considered it.

“When I started playing I never thought about the school’s struggling history,” Conant said. “We had a very good team last year (my first year), and I believe we could win games, so the past seem irrelevant. It was a new year and a new team.”

Last year Conant made the 2016 All-South Coast Conference (SCC) lineup as the team designated hitter. This year, along with the help of his teammates, he stopped the decline by finishing the season with 21 runs, 31 RBIs, and a .456 batting average. He was also named the SCC North Most Valuable Player.

The key game was their battle against East Los Angeles College. Conant helped the Lancers sweep them in a three-game series to clinch the SCC North Division Title.  Finishing this game with 3 runs, 6 RBIs and 5 hits, he helped the Lancers take their first conference crown in 45 years. Conant helped secured first place at 13-6 in the division against ELAC.

Shortstop teammate Alex Briggs says that Conant has been a major contributor to the team. He considers him a leader who shows a lot of respect to his fellow players.

“Jeremy was a great teammate and leader,” Briggs said about the all-star. “He was always picking guys up and pulling for our teammates. He displayed leadership the way he handled himself… and put in a lot of work. I think he really set a good example for the guys around him.”

Coach McGee thinks of Conant as more of a ‘lead by example’ type of athlete. But when Briggs got injured last year, Conant became the voice for the team and maintained a 3.4 GPA while attending night classes after practice.

“It’s not his personality to be that guy, but he leads with his commitment, his work ethic; it’s just who he is,” Coach McGee said. “Jeremy is just naturally a leader because of how good he is.”

At the end of the season, Conant finished by breaking a number of PCC records while assisting Coach McGee, who became SCC North’s Coach of the Year, with putting the Lancers back in the spotlight for the first time since 1972.

He finished the season with a .429 batting average, got 67 hits for a single-season record in PCC history, and over a two-year career he finished with 128 hits, which is the most that’s been done throughout a two-year career.

“He was all-conference as a freshman and an MVP in the league as a sophomore, so that tells you that this kid was a good player,” Coach McGee said. “He’s really been the complete package.”

When Conant finishes school, he will continue to play baseball at the University of New Mexico as a Division 1 player. His goal is to play for the Giants just like his hero.

“While our coaching staff promises that you will leave PCC as a better player, they weren’t wrong,” Conant said. “I feel my mindset and athletic ability have both improved drastically just these past two years. This whole experience has not only increased my level of play, but also built character every step of the way.”

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