Hill School Director of Athletics and Co-Curricular Activities Seth Eilberg P'22 '23 '25 recently announced Chris Bala '97 P'25 '27 as the School’s new head boys’ varsity ice hockey coach. Bala, who has led Hill’s boys’ JV ice hockey team for the past three years, previously served as the varsity head coach from 2013-2021. He will continue his work in Hill’s Admission Office as the senior associate director of admission and director of financial aid.

Bala replaces Sean O’Brien P'24 '25, who has served as Hill’s head boys' varsity ice hockey coach since the 2021-2022 school year. O’Brien recently accepted a position with the National Hockey League (NHL) Pittsburgh Penguins and will depart Hill at the end of this academic year.

“A member of Hill’s Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2017, Coach Bala is inextricably tied to the proud legacy of Hill Ice Hockey,” Eilberg stated. “Most importantly, he understands and values the unique context of a Hill School education and how an outstanding ice hockey program can amplify our student-athletes’ overall Hill experience.”

“Having had a chance to work with him closely in that role for many years, I could not think of a better person to lead our boys’ ice hockey program forward,” continued Eilberg. “He feels a deep sense of connection and gratitude to our program, and I know he will do all he can to continue supporting a special experience for our student-athletes, just as he did during his previous years as head coach.”

After graduating from Hill in 1997, Bala attended Harvard University where he played four years of Division I ice hockey. Two months after finishing his freshman year at Harvard, Bala was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the second round of the 1998 NHL Draft. He elected to stay at Harvard for all four years, though and served as an assistant captain during his senior year. 

Bala made his professional ice hockey debut with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League (AHL) in 2001-02. In his rookie season, Bala was named an AHL All-Star and earned a call-up from the Ottawa Senators, playing six games in the NHL. He played in the AHL until 2005 and returned to Pennsylvania to finish his career, spending two seasons with the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) Reading Royals. Bala was named the Royals’ team captain for his final season. He was inducted into the Reading Royals Wall of Honor in 2014. 

Bala retired from professional hockey in 2007 and returned to The Hill as a member of the Admission Office staff. In 2008, he joined the Hill boys’ ice hockey coaching program as an assistant coach. In 2013, Bala took the helm of the boys’ varsity ice hockey team and began a seven-year long successful stint in which he amassed a 108-78-11 record and led Hill to three Mid-Atlantic Hockey League (MAHL) championships. In 2021, he decided to take a step back from the head varsity coaching role to pursue other professional interests.

Alongside Bala will be Ben Bala '16, who will serve as the associate head coach. He currently is an assistant coach with the boys’ varsity ice hockey team and an English Fellow. Ben Bala will be an active influence in all facets of the program development, including recruiting, scouting, and player development both in and out of season.