Palm Beach Atlantic Head Coach Balza steps away from coaching

Palm Beach Atlantic’s David Balza has announced his retirement from coaching at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year after spending the last eight seasons leading the Sailfish. Balza’s departure comes as a personal decision to relocate with his family, wife Karrie and children Faith and Jack, back to the Midwest and to transition into a new career outside of coaching.

He leaves coaching with 313 wins over 22 seasons as a head coach leading PBA, Bethany Lutheran, Florida Gulf Coast and St. Joseph’s (Indiana). Balza spent the last 34 years working in NCAA college basketball.

“I look forward to this new career that God has placed in my and my family’s path, and serving Him in this new endeavor,” Balza said. “The Lord has richly blessed me over the years. Not only have I gotten to do something every day that I enjoy and am passionate about, but I got to do it at some amazing institutions and with some incredible people.”

“I would like to thank all the Presidents and Athletic Directors that I have been privileged to work for, starting with Marty Smith who took a chance on a young first-time head coach at St. Joseph’s, and ending with the administration here at PBA,” Balza continued. “Thank you to President Fleming and Carolyn Stone, who brought me here to PBA and to Dr. Schwinn and Courtney Lovely Evans, with whom I get to share this momentous finale to my coaching career. Thank you to the coaches who hired me as an assistant and to the many assistant coaches that I have had an opportunity to hire and with whom I have had the privilege to work. Most of all, thank you to the more than 200 student-athletes I have had the privilege to serve over the years. It was my honor to be your coach. My prayer remains that God strengthens your faith and that you enjoy the journey God has in store for each of you. I look forward to watching each of you grow into servant-leaders with your families and in your communities, just as you grew in the classroom and on the court.”

Balza took over at PBA prior to the 2013-14 season after the Sailfish posted just one win the previous year. He led PBA to an increase in wins in each of his first four years calling Rubin Arena home and helped lead the Sailfish from the independent ranks into the Sunshine State Conference. Balza led the ‘Fish to the 2017 Sunshine State Tournament Championship Game in the program’s first year of eligibility.

The improvement continued as Balza guided the ‘Fish into the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time in school history during the 2019-20 season after posting a 21-9 overall record and a 13-7 mark in the SSC. The Sailfish were scheduled to take on Valdosta State in the South Regional that year before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the NCAA tournament. That season was the first 20-win season in the program’s D2 era.

PBA qualified for the SSC Tournament each year that the team was eligible beginning in the 2016-17 season, a feat only two other SSC schools can match during that time. Balza leaves PBA with 97 wins which is the second most in program history and the most in the program’s D2 era.

“I want to thank Dave for his eight years of service to PBA,” PBA Director of Athletics Courtney Lovely Evans said. “He came to PBA when we needed a turnaround and he did just that, culminating with our first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2020. I want to congratulate him on his successful career and celebrate him and his family for following God’s next right step for them.”

Before coming to PBA, Balza spent two years as head coach of Bethany Lutheran where he posted a 22-6 mark in conference play and won the program’s first-ever UMAC regular season title. The Vikings advanced to the conferment tournament championship game in both seasons. He was named the 2011-12 UMAC Coach of the Year.

Balza was tasked with starting the men’s basketball program at Florida Gulf Coast in 2001 and immediately positioned the Eagles as a force in Division II by winning 23 games. The team qualified for the NCAA Tournament in their first year of eligibility in 2004-05 with a 24-7 record and he was named the National Independent Coach of the Year in 2005 for his efforts. After setting a program record of 27 wins in 2006-07, Balza led the program into Division I during his final four seasons. Balza finished with 153 wins in nine seasons at FGCU which still leads the Eagles program.

In 1998, Coach Balza took over a St. Joseph’s program at just 28 years old. The team had won just four games the previous year and was placed on a two-year probation by the NCAA. By year three he had completely revitalized the program. He was named the 2001 GLVC Coach of the Year and the Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year for his work.

Prior to becoming a head coach, Balza spent time as an assistant at Cleveland State and Ashland (Ohio). He got his start as a student manager and video coordinator at the University of Michigan where he was part of the 1989 National Championship team.

Palm Beach Atlantic will begin a national search for the next head men’s basketball coach immediately.

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