The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 27, 2013

Bethany coach had hand in rise of Florida Gulf Coast


The transition to Division I began in 2007. FGCU was ineligible for postseason play for the next four years and then became a full-fledged D-I member starting in 2011. Balza was let go just before that season and ended up at Bethany.

“I don’t think anybody thought they would get this good this fast,” Balza said. “It’s quite an accomplishment to be the first 15th seed in tournament history to reach the Sweet Sixteen.”

Come Friday evening, Balza will be glued to the TV again to cheer on the Eagles.

“(The coaching staff I had at FGCU) looks at it as we wrote the first few chapter to what has turned into a pretty good novel,” he said. “Can’t wait to see how it ends.”


Jim Rueda is the Free Press sports editor. To contact him, call 344-6381 or e-mail him at

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