This goes back eight years, to when Evan Horn was concluding a career at Cedar Crest that saw him take his place as one of the most decorated multisport athletes in the history of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.

Would he play basketball in college? Football? Both? That was the dilemma.

He ultimately chose New Hampshire, and football (though there would be a tiny bit of hoops mixed in), after strongly considering Villanova and Army’s football offers, and the hoops overtures of Navy and Holy Cross.

Evan Horn graduated from University of New Hampshire in 2020. (Provided photo)

Horn, approaching his 26th birthday and now on the other side of a long, productive career as a safety at UNH, recalled that moment recently. Specifically, he remembered sitting down with his parents in the office of then-Wildcats head coach Sean McDonnell and giving his commitment in January 2016.

Horn had one question for McDonnell, though: Could he wear No. 33? It was the number he had worn for the Falcons, in football and basketball, throughout high school. He did so in honor of a family friend, Charles Kyeremeh Jr., a three-sport athlete at Cedar Crest before him. Kyeremeh went on to play football for a year at Maine, but lost his life in a motorcycle accident in July 2011.

McDonnell knew of Kyeremeh, but the way Horn remembers it, hesitated at first to give the newcomer No. 33. Two reasons. First, Horn said, “It wasn’t a thing for freshmen to ask for a number. You kind of got whatever number they gave you, and that was it.” Second, it had also been the number McDonnell wore when he played safety at UNH, in 1974-78.

“All my buddies thought I would give that number to somebody who would be a good player,” McDonnell said with a laugh.

Ultimately, though, he gave his assent. “I was very happy to do it,” he said. “It wasn’t like it was a big selling point. I was very proud of the way he wore it.”

Evan Horn pictured during his playing career at the University of New Hampshire. (Photo by Rick Wilson, UNH Athletics)

Understandably so. Horn started for the better part of four years (not to mention the lone game the Wildcats played in the spring of 2021, after their 2020 season had been wiped out by COVID). He accumulated 228 tackles and 13 interceptions, four of which he returned for touchdowns. He also returned punts and served as part-time long snapper, occasionally doing both in the same game – an unusual bit of double duty.

Late in his career McDonnell called him “as good a safety as we’ve ever had here at UNH.” When contacted for this piece he said Horn had been “the general of the defense.”

“Kids looked to him,” said McDonnell, who retired in 2021, after 22 years as the Wildcats’ head man. “It was like the lighthouse effect in the cove.”

That’s no doubt because his teammates saw in Horn what McDonnell had seen that day in his office: He always had an idea, always had a plan, always had direction. 

That’s still true today. Horn is, appropriately, the director of planning for Gerhart Financial Services in Lebanon, a business owned by Tom Gerhart, Horn’s position coach in high school. But as always, his personal plan is top of mind.

Read More: Gerhart Financial Services welcomes Evan Horn as director of planning

Evan Horn is Director of Planning for Gerhart Financial Services in Lebanon. (Provided photo)

He was engaged in March to his long-time girlfriend, Caitlynn Albright, with a wedding planned for the summer of 2025. And beginning this fall he will serve as an assistant on the staff of new Crest head coach Nick Lambros, working with the safeties. (Evan’s brother Logan has also agreed to come aboard as quarterbacks coach.)

Always moving forward. Always with an idea of how things might unfold.

“From his playing days to his professional career just taking off now, he’s all about laying out that plan,” Gerhart said. “He wants to know what he’s doing, how he’s going to do it. He wants to know where he’s going to be at different times, and how he can get there.”

Such forethought is not to be taken lightly, given the adjustment issues high-level athletes often face, once the cheering stops. Gerhart, 58, knows a good bit about that, having played outside linebacker at Ohio University and safety during a decade-long professional career highlighted by three games with the Rich Kotite-coached Philadelphia Eagles in 1992.

Gerhart, who also played in the short-lived World League of American Football and the CFL, saw his career come to an end when he broke his neck while playing for the Canadian League’s Edmonton Eskimos in 1998. At that point he remembered his coach, Kay Stephenson, telling him, “If you were my son, I would have you hang up your helmet.”

Gerhart already knew in his heart that was the right call, and said he smoothly transitioned out of the game with the help of friends and family members. He began his career in finance the following year, and has run his own operation since 2003.

Certainly, though, he has seen others struggle to replace the rush that comes with facing top-notch competition for years on end.

“I think there’s quite the adjustment that you have to make, in many, many ways,” he said. “And it can be difficult. It can be really difficult and trying for some people.”

Evan Horn with his fiancee Caitlynn Albright. The couple plan to get married next summer. (Provided photo) Lore Castellano

But not Horn. Not according to Gerhart, and not according to Horn himself.

“It’s actually been all right,” he said. “I get my fix in.”

Twice a week he plays early morning pickup hoops with teachers and coaches at his old high school, and he is, he said, “trying harder to be better at golf.” Then there’s the job itself, which offers its own challenges. Horn, who earned his undergrad degree in finance from UNH in 2020 (and later his masters in kinesiology and exercise science), wears several hats – onboarding new clients, inputting data and tending to the client portal.

As Gerhart said, “You’re doing a lot of everything.”

Fine with Horn, whose previous experience involved working part-time at Mel’s Diner in Lebanon, which is owned by his uncle, as well as summer jobs in construction and as a machine operator.

“This is the first job I’ve had where I come in and have an office and there’s a desk,” he said, adding that his approach is much the same as it was in athletics – “do your best and work as hard as you can and do the extra work.”

While always forging ahead. He seldom looks back, seldom second-guesses himself.

“The one I have is I wonder how basketball would have gone if I would have pursued that full-time (in college),” he said.

He played 14 games of hoops for UNH in 2017-18, after recovering from a broken finger sustained in one of his first practices following his football-basketball transition. He averaged 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.1 minutes a game, but never played in college again.

“I’ll always wonder what would have happened if I would have taken, like, the Navy basketball route,” he said, “because obviously the Naval Academy is very prestigious. I don’t think I quite understood that, back when I was 18 years old. In terms of regrets, no regrets, but you always have that second thought in the back of your mind of what if, what if. But that’s life.”

After his football career wrapped up in 2021, he had a few NFL feelers, nothing more.

“The big difference for Evan was the speed thing,” McDonnell said. “The cover ability, there’s such a difference from college to the pro level. Safeties have got to cover really fast wide receivers. At the next level, scouts thought that would be a very hard thing.”

So in May 2022, after not hearing his name called in the latter stages of the draft and not hearing his phone ring when pro teams were looking to fill out minicamp rosters, he and Albright headed to Ocean City, Maryland. Rented a place. Got jobs. Hung out.

As he put it, they wanted to “kind of live a little bit longer before we go into the real world.”

They stayed five months. It wasn’t too long after they returned to Lebanon in September that Horn reached out to Gerhart about a job. His former coach already had a good feel for him, of course, having worked with Horn during a career that saw him serve as a Falcons captain for four years, earn All-Section One honors three times and be named the section’s Defensive Back of the Year as a sophomore and the Wide Receiver of the Year as a senior.

The rest of his athletic resume was no less impressive. He was named All-L-L in hoops three times, while twice leading the Falcons to the District Three 6A final. And he was a three-time Lebanon County javelin champ.

Gerhart knew him as a guy who always played for keeps, who always led with his heart. He also knew him as a guy who never, ever wanted to sit out, no matter the circumstances. But before hiring Horn last year, Gerhart had one question: Is this really what you want to do?

Of course it was. Because Evan Horn always seems to know what he wants, always seems to have direction. Why change now? Why stop churning ahead, plotting a new course? There’s so much more out there, so much more to see and do. There’s no use stopping now. In his mind, there never is.

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Gordie Jones is a Lititz-based freelance sportswriter.


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