"It was the fall of 1985 and I was starting out in a doctoral program at Columbia University in New York City. My plan was to become a college professor of psychology and to work as a sports counselor on the side. Several years earlier, I had been been extremely lucky and happened upon a college professor who took an interest in me as a student and as a person. This was following a less than stellar freshman year in which I had spent a lot of time playing soccer, sunning on the beach, and building up a 1.9 Grade Point Average. His attention opened up a whole new world of learning that eventually saw me graduating with honors and headed off to graduate school. I now planned to take his lessons and pay it forward to a future generation of students."
"Little did I know that by 1988, I'd be sidetracked into college coaching instead. Although it took me at least another six years to figure it out, I finally came to the realization that I was doing exactly what I had set out to do. I was running the soccer program as though I was a professor. I was fortunate enough to be in a position to pay it forward."
- Paul Harbin
Following the 2010 season, Coach Paul Harbin retired from the college ranks to spend more time with his wife, three children, family, and friends. He has coached at the NCAA Division I level for 22 years, 18 as the Head Coach. He has also been directing successful residential, team and day camps for over 20 years and continues to do so today.
Coach Harbin's college coaching career has included two universities, Mercer University and The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He still remains as the only coach in Mercer University Women’s Soccer history with a career winning record. Harbin also holds a career winning record at UAB. Under his guidance, the UAB Women’s Soccer program has played in two NCAA Championships and has won more Conference USA Championships (3) than any other sport at the University. His teams have been ranked in the top 25 on several occasions and were ranked in the Top 10 in the Region nearly every year.
Harbin’s main focus has always been on the overall personal growth and development of his student-athletes. That commitment has resulted in his teams producing nine Academic All-Americans, 21 Regional Academic All-Americans, eleven Regional All-Americans, 51 All-Conference players, one Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, one Conference USA Freshman of the Year, three Conference USA Scholar Athletes of the Year and two Rhodes Scholar Nominees.
Harbin also spent two years as an assistant with the UAB Men’s Soccer program where he helped guide the Blazers to two Conference Championships and an NCAA Championship Tournament appearance.
Across his career, Harbin has been selected as the Conference USA Coach of the Year and nominated for the NCAA South Region Coach of the Year. He was also appointed as the Head Coach of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s South Region Women’s Select Team and has served as a member of the coaching staff of Alabama Olympic Development Program (ODP) and the ODP South Region staff.
Coach Harbin holds a Master’s Degree in The Psychosocial Study of Human Movement (Sports Psychology) from Columbia University. He and his wife, Mo, reside in Birmingham. They have three children, Jessica, Anna and Andrew.
"Be The Difference"
This phrase has been been the core element of my philosophy of teaching and approaching life. In a nutshell it encapsulates the following:
Positively impact your work, your environment, and those around you. Have a strong presence. Take responsibility.
- Leadership: By Example and Encouraging.
- Communication: Keep it Simple and Sincere.
- Work Ethic: Internally motivated; do the right thing, no other option.
It's an ever evolving process worth striving towards.
Be The Difference!