Vision quest: New coaches offer new focus

Voulgaris, Fahey set fresh standards for Big Red football, field hockey.

Brian Muldoon
November 1, 2021

Panos Voulgaris and Samantha Fahey hope to take Big Red football and field hockey to new heights.

Two new faces patrol the PEA sidelines this fall. Panos Voulgaris is the new head coach for varsity football, while Samantha Fahey has stepped in as the head coach for varsity field hockey. Each faces a challenge to rebuild. And each has plans for their respective program to make a big impact in the Exeter community and beyond while continuing to honor the rich tradition of Big Red athletics.

Voulgaris is a career coach and educator who is passionate about the game of football and excited to bring Big Red to new heights. “Football requires mental and physical toughness at a high level,” Voulgaris says. “It teaches the values of perseverance and teamwork that kids can take with them for the rest of their lives. Being able to teach the game in a residential environment where kids come from a diversity of backgrounds on all levels is unique and exciting.”

Voulgaris is no stranger to prep school football, having spent the past 14 years as a teacher, administrator and head coach. He arrives in Exeter after a successful coaching stint at Noble and Greenough School, where he led the program to a bowl game victory in his first season. Prior to his time at Nobles, Voulgaris was responsible for turning the Episcopal High School and Taft School programs into regional powerhouses. He led both programs to championship seasons while seeing more than a hundred former student-athletes go on to play collegiately across the country. His teams’ on-field success can be attributed to working from the ground up, building a foundation of strong camaraderie, culture and training.

“Preparation and teamwork are essential to any football team’s success,” he says. “I’ve always emphasized hard work, selflessness and fun as being key components to a football team. One of our goals is to continually improve our practice habits as we move forward. This will be instru-mental to setting our program’s foundation and establish-ing a jumping board to a great future.”

Voulgaris, who earned his bachelor’s degree and played college football at Merrimack College before earning a master’s degree at Harvard University, has surrounded himself with a great team of coaches that features a lot of experience and expertise on the field, in the classroom and in the Exeter community.

“I’m fortunate enough to work with an experienced coaching staff who have done a great job working with our kids and love and appreciate all that is Exeter,” Voulgaris says. “They are dedicated to our process, believe in our philosophical objectives from both a football and cultural standpoint, and know how to have fun on the football field.”

If Samantha Fahey’s name sounds familiar to Big Red followers, that is because she has returned to the Exeter field hockey sidelines after previously serving as head coach in 2013. After spending time in her home state of New York, Fahey is back to lead the program and serve as a physical education instructor.

“I loved my time here and could not be more excited to come back,” says Fahey. “This campus and community makes for a very easy transition. The students are responsible, intelligent and highly motivated — qualities that mimic my experience working with collegiate athletes. I am thrilled to work under [Director of Physical Education and Athletics] Jason Baseden’s guidance and vision. I believe great things are in store for Big Red.”

Fahey’s coaching career started immediately after an impressive playing career at the University of New Hampshire, where she helped lead the Wildcats to

the NCAA tournament while earning All-America, all-conference and academic honor roll awards.

“It was my college coach who encouraged me to get into coaching, and I am very grateful for that,” Fahey says. “My college experience has given me so much throughout my life and career, and I hope field hockey can do the same for other female student-athletes. I truly enjoy mentoring young women and helping them find their path. I love the sport, the community around it, and I am thankful for everything that athletics has done for my life.”

After graduating from UNH, Fahey earned her master’s degree at Michigan State University while coaching with the Spartans field hockey program. From there Fahey returned to coach at UNH before moving on to Harvard University and eventually Columbia University, where she was the Lions’ top assistant for the past five years. Since returning to the Seacoast, Fahey has established a clear vision for the Big Red program, with influence from her Exeter colleagues.

“As a coach you always notice what great coaches and great programs do, and you gravitate to follow that path,” she says. “There are so many great coaches and teachers here that I want to learn from. Off the bat, I look at a program that coach Christina Breen has built with Exeter girls lacrosse, and I want to mirror that. I want to build a program with high standards, where the students are setting the bar and are continually pushing themselves. My hope is to build tradition and a program that involves our PEA community and surrounding community.”