Nomadic Lacrosse Life Brings Chris Panos to Fork Union Military Academy
Chris Panos popularized the touring model long before Paul Rabil and the PLL ever institutionalized it.
It was not by choice, necessarily. But playing for 10 different NLL teams during his illustrious 12-year pro box career and coaching the sport in all parts of North America positioned Panos uniquely for his latest venture as the associate athletic director and head coach of the new Fork Union Military Academy post-graduate boys’ lacrosse team.
“I’m excited to see what we can do to get this program on the map,” Panos said. “We have everything you need to be successful from the start.”
To call Panos a journeyman would imply he was not good enough to stick with any one team. That is far from the truth. A prolific scorer, Panos played on four U.S. Men’s Box National Teams and retired from the NLL in 2008 ranked seventh all-time in goals scored by an American-born player.
“My passion for box was immeasurable,” said Panos, who won a title with the Philadelphia Wings and coaches the Greece national team competing in the 2024 World Lacrosse Box Championships. “I loved the speed, skill, excitement, physicality and entertainment value with tremendous crowds.”
A Long Island native who starred at Sachem High School and Hofstra University, Panos’ nomadic existence as a player and coach took him to Boston, Baltimore, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Calgary, Colorado, Anaheim, Arizona, Chicago, Seattle, Toronto, New York, Vancouver, Tampa and Charlotte. He also spent several summers in Canada, winning three Mann Cup championships.
It’s all led to this, Panos said, the chance to build a program from scratch in the rolling hills of central Virginia at a prestigious military academy with a well-documented history of producing elite PG athletes. At least 117 football players from Fork Union have been drafted or signed by NFL teams.
“We’re not affiliated with any branch of service,” Panos said. “It’s about structure, leadership and character development in a Christian faith, military-style environment.”
Panos spent five years as the head coach at Queens University in Charlotte and was instrumental in the team’s transition to the NCAA Division I level. No stranger to the recruiting trail, he's currently compiling a 24-player roster for FUMA's inaugural 2024-25 campaign. The academy is constructing a new stadium and locker room and has supplied Panos with scholarships and a generous travel budget to take the team on the road to play prominent PG teams in the Midwest, New England and beyond.
“I don’t see any roadblocks,” Panos said.
If you are a high school senior who wants to reopen or broaden your recruiting without burning NCAA eligibility, Fork Union could be the place for you. The academy is hosting a free prospect day Feb. 17.