By Rubin E. Grant
When Birmingham- Southern made the decision to move from NCAA Division I to Division III in 2006, Preston Goldfarb was so disenchanted, he decided to write a book.
Goldfarb started the Panthers’ soccer program in 1983 and turned it into a national powerhouse in NAIA. He relished the opportunity to compete in Division I, but six years after BSC moved to the highest level of intercollegiate sports, the Panthers dropped down to Division III.
“I was so frustrated that I started writing,” Goldfarb said. “About a chapter in, I couldn’t deal with it. I couldn’t put it to paper, so I stopped.”
With the help of veteran sportswriter Scott Adamson, who now lives in South Carolina, Goldfarb resumed his book project in 2020 and this September, “Tenacity of Purpose: Coach Preston Goldfarb’s Journey Through Life, Loves and Soccer” was released by Palmetto Publishing.
Goldfarb, who lives in Mountain Brook, described the book as a memoir for his family.
“It was a long time in the making,” he said. “I’m not going to get rich with this book, but that’s not the purpose of it. The purpose is to take you through my journey growing up as a child in Birmingham in the 1950s and 1960s and facing anti-semitism and the three times I went to Israel. I mention my hobbies and how I almost went to work for the CIA.”
The book details how Goldfarb became one of the most celebrated soccer coaches in the nation, winning more than 350 games, including 10 regular season conference titles. He retired in 2015 after 33 seasons at the helm. He came out of retirement earlier this fall to coach a new semi-professional team, FC Birmingham, but recently resigned.
Goldfarb’s memoir tells the story of how he was a driving force behind the city of Birmingham hosting Olympic soccer for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games and BSC’s campus serving as the Olympic Village. It also mentions Goldfarb’s international stints as a coach in Australia and in Israel.
It also recounts Goldfarb’s election into three halls of fame – Birmingham-Southern, NAIA and Jewish Sports Heritage.
Richard Friedman of Southern Jewish Life Magazine wrote in a review that the book is more than an autobiography.
“It’s a compendium of insights from a guy who is still embracing new challenges as he turns 74 in December and who is continuing a seemingly never-ending trajectory that has touched countless lives around the world, both on and off the soccer field,” Friedman wrote.
A Prodding Partner
Without Adamson, Goldfarb might not have finished the book. In the spring of 2020, Adamson reached out to Goldfarb about a story he was writing about the Birmingham Grasshoppers, a soccer team Goldfarb founded and coached from 1992 to 1996 as a member of the United States Interregional Soccer and Premier leagues.
“As we were talking, Scott said, ‘You need to write a book,’” Goldfarb recalled. “I told him I had written a chapter but stopped. He said, ‘Send me your chapter and call me every Thursday and I’ll interview you and record a chapter, edit it and send it back to you every Tuesday.’ From April 2020 until March 2021, that’s what we did.”
But then Goldfarb had knee replacement surgery and recovered from it, but he started to have pain in his leg, first gout and then neuropathy.
“I didn’t sleep in my bed for four months,” Goldfarb said. “I slept on the couch.”
Once his health improved, he and Adamson finished the book. Adamson sent the manuscript to a few publishing houses, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, none would take it on.
Goldfarb decided to go a different route.
“I did some research on self-publishing and found a company in South Carolina, Palmetto, that would publish it,” Goldfarb said. “I did my own marketing through my alumni group of soccer players at Birmingham-Southern, my soccer camps and others.
“We’ve sold about 150 copies since Sept. 10, which is pretty good I think.”
Goldfarb said the response has been positive and his family is glad he finished the book.
“My family loves it,” Goldfarb said. “They found it very interesting. A lot of them didn’t know some of those things about me. My children did of course, but some of my nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews, and some cousins didn’t.
“I think it turned out really well. I’ve gotten great reviews.”
“Tenacity of Purpose: is available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble as well as other online outlets.