There is a small wooden desk sign on Jim Horn’s desk that reads “I’d rather be golfing.”
To the left, adjacent to his desk, sits a large brown Class 2A girls lacrosse state championship trophy.
Horn, South Carroll’s athletic director for 19 years, accepted that trophy alongside the girls lacrosse team two weeks ago after the Cavaliers captured their first state championship in an overtime thriller against Hereford.
“That — that was just so, so special,” Horn said, pointing to the trophy. “It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with those kids … they just came out and dominated from the first whistle. Just watching those girls, the excitement, the camaraderie, and the community got wrapped up around them.
“That’s going to go down as my favorite memory, maybe because it’s the most recent. I had some really good memories going into this year, but that was special.”
The Cavs’ longtime athletic director is retiring at the end of the school year, and can now focus on what that sign on his desk reads.
Horn, a Mount St. Mary’s graduate, came to South Carroll in 1982 to start teaching and got involved with coaching shortly after. He coached SC’s girls track and field team for 10 years, and led the Cavs to a county championship in 1988.
He coached freshman basketball, junior varsity basketball, junior varsity soccer and coached the girls varsity soccer team for 14 years prior to becoming athletic director in 2000. Gene Brown held the AD spot before that, and Fred Baker before him — both men are in the Carroll County Sports Hall of Fame.
“Typically a lot of times people think, ‘Football coach/athletic director,’ and I was one of the first to sort of break that mold,” Horn said. “Fred was a basketball guy, so I guess I wasn’t the first. I had basketball, played baseball, the track; it sort of gave me an understanding of the overall picture. That helped me, I don’t know that it helped the position, because quite honestly anyone that gets into this position learns real quickly that you have to embrace all the sports but knowing a lot about that helped me more so than it helped the position.”
Horn said he’s going to take a six-month break, spend time with his wife, Ann, and travel across the country to play Pebble Beach during the first week of the 2019 fall sports season.
Horn said working with kids is the most rewarding part of his job. He also praised the South Carroll administration and coaching staff, which is filled with many former athletes. Former students and other members of the community have visited to wish Horn well as he prepares for retirement.
Situations like these are what help to make the South Carroll community special, he said.
“I got into teaching because I wanted to coach; I wanted to coach because I wanted to work with kids and I fell in love with teaching” Horn said. “One of my biggest regrets is getting out of the classroom. I sort of lost touch with the kids from that perspective, but working with the kids day to day … that doesn’t mean I got along with every kid that came through and doesn’t mean every kid thought the world of me.
“Overall, I felt like I was putting kids first for 37 years. It doesn’t mean I always did, but I tried.”
Liz Padgett spent 13 years as South Carroll’s girls basketball coach before becoming athletic director at Manchester Valley in 2018. Padgett said she learned valuable lessons from Horn and that he will leave a lasting impact on the South Carroll community.