The Temple graduate is the first Muslim woman to hold her position in the NFL.
By Alexis Beckett
It’s not that her family wasn’t supportive. It was more so just a question:
Sure, you like football and sports. But can you make a career out of it?
Five years later, the answer is a resounding yes.
Ameena Soliman earned two degrees, two internships, and spent four seasons with the Temple football program, but she never thought it would all lead her to where she is today as an NFL Scout with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“My father was an immigrant,” Soliman said. “A lot of people who come to America have to find something steady and reliable, like lawyers or doctors. My family just wanted to make sure I could support myself.”
Even during her nearly five-hour bus commute to and from the NFL Offices in New York, Soliman’s mind never wondered about a life in football scouting. After working in football operations at Temple, doing everything from bagging players’ lunches to planning events, it was more than those actions that landed her a job with the Eagles.
“Be good to everyone around you,” Soliman said. “It’s more important than a specific skill set.”
Soliman has made her reputation with her coworkers a priority for the past eight years. Adding that to her mindset of “always working like you’re the intern trying to get a job,” Soliman’s success isn’t a surprise to anyone who knows her.
Laying the foundation
Soliman grew up in Yardley, about 30 miles and 45 minutes north of Temple’s football facility at 10th and Diamond Streets, with her parents and two sisters. When she was six, her parents put all three girls into taekwondo.
“We were jumpy little kids,” Soliman said. “It was a way to kind of keep us in check, and we ended up sticking to it.”
Soliman earned her black belt around ninth grade and spent about nine years in the sport. One of the most important takeaways from her time in taekwondo that would help her later on was discipline.
Another activity of young Soliman was watching football. The rest of her household didn’t follow sports closely, but Soliman decided she would follow the Eagles.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do with [football],” Soliman said. “I was just intrigued by the sport as a fan and took it from there.”
Soliman’s love for the game grew watching players like former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. Soliman even had the chance to come to a Temple football game in 2009 with her father, Ahmed, who is a doctor at Temple.
When it came time for college, Soliman knew she wanted to make a career out of it.
“I actually wanted to do sports medicine. That was my goal originally,” Soliman said. “But the more I learned about it, I realized the only part I liked about it was the sports, not the medicine.”
After deciding between a few schools, Soliman decided to come to Temple and get her undergraduate degree in finance and marketing from the Fox School of Business.
Soliman wasted no time and got involved with Temple Football as soon as she possibly could. She emailed the director of football at the time, Sean Padden.
“I wrote,” Soliman recalled, “and said ‘Hey, I’m a freshman. I don’t know what I can do, but I want to help with the team.’”
Soliman started volunteering with the team her first spring semester, sealing envelopes and doing small tasks. Soliman then spent the rest of her undergraduate career as a paid intern with the team.
Soliman spent countless hours at what felt like home, the Edberg-Olsen football facility, making impressions on those who felt like family.
“Ameena’s personality is infectious,” Gerson, now an Associate Director of Development Operations for Temple Athletics, said. “She has made every initiative we have worked on an absolute blast. I am incredibly fortunate to call her a close friend.”
With the departure of former Temple football head coach, Matt Rhule, Soliman had planned to leave the team. With one semester of college left, she wanted to focus on getting a job, but the team asked her to stay around for a couple of weeks to help with the transition.
A couple of weeks turned into a graduate assistant position under new head coach Geoff Collins. Once Soliman graduated with her master’s degree in sports business, she started working for the NFL League office in New York in player personnel, the department she interned with in 2016.
Soliman couldn’t get out of her lease in Philadelphia, which meant she had to wake up at 5:30 a.m., drive 30 minutes to a bus stop in South Jersey, and then spend two-and-a-half hours on a bus to get to the office.
Luckily she had a friend, Isaac Gittens, with whom she shared the commute.
“Going through things like that together with my Temple family brought us close,” Soliman said. “We haven’t worked together in years, but we will always have a relationship.”
After months of the long commute and a desire to be back in a team environment, Soliman informed her bosses that she wanted to get back to a team. Soon after, they encouraged her to apply for a six-week training camp internship with her hometown team, the Eagles. They even gave her the option to come back to the league office after it was finished.
Soliman went to the interview with the notion that the internship was for what she knew best, football operations. To her surprise, the interviewer, Jon Ferarri, informed her that it would be 30% operations and the rest would be scouting.
“I told him I haven’t done [scouting],” Soliman said. “But it’s something I can learn and figure out. I think I’m a quick learner.”
That was all Ferarri needed to hear.
After not expecting to get the position, the Eagles brought Soliman on and explained to her that they saw it as a “long-term investment” and that she is a perfect fit for the organization.
“They told me that they can teach me how to watch a receiver,” Soliman said. “But it’s harder to teach someone how to work hard, how to be a good teammate and how to deal with people.”
Those six weeks turned into a new career step for Soliman.
In the beginning, Soliman was doing a lot of administrative work and learning how to scout on the side. One person to take her under his wing was Dwayne Joseph, the current Director of Pro Personnel for the Las Vegas Raiders.
“He sat down with me every week,” Soliman said. “We would decide on a different position and watch a couple different players. He helped me get my stupid questions out and really helped me understand what to look for.”
Soliman took her time while watching practices and film, taking notes on as much as she could. The hardest part of her scouting experience was adjusting to the volume of scouting reports, but her time at Temple prepared her for a busy schedule.
As each year went on, Soliman’s role in scouting increased until she was moved to a full-time pro scout last year.
“I’m just thankful to be around people willing to take chances on me,” Soliman said. “Even when I didn’t feel like I was ready at times, everyone here knew that I was and trusted me.”
The support from the Eagles has allowed Soliman to excel at a career she never saw for herself. One of her favorite parts of her job is the full circle moments with the people she built her foundation with at Temple.
“It’s so cool to see people you came up with,” Solomon said. “I run into the whole Panthers staff at the combine every year and some of those coaches I’ve babysat for when I was at Temple.”
Soliman also works in the building with former Temple football players Shaun Bradley and Hasaan Reddick.
“It’s great to see all of the pieces coming together,” Soliman said.
More than football
Soliman, who in 2021 was honored with Temple’s Young Alumni Diamond Excellence Award and was just recently placed on Temple’s 2022 30 under 30 list, has been a part of a team her entire life. When the pandemic hit in 2020, she created a special one with her Eagles co-worker, Catherine Raiche.
A strength coach told Soliman about a strength coach network that they had, and she realized there was nothing of the sort for women. Soliman brought the idea to Raiche, the Eagles former Vice President of Football Operations.
“We wanted to connect with the women of the NFL and find ways to help them,” Raiche said. “The truth is we had no idea how many women were working on the football side across the league.”
The duo went to the website of all 32 NFL teams and compiled a list of 100 women. After sending out an email introducing the idea of creating an alliance, they received 90 emails back. Their positions ranged from football operations to coaches, scouts, nutritionists and trainers.
“We were shocked at the amount of responses,” Soliman said.
The first thing the duo did was create a WhatsApp group chat where they all shared resources and experiences with each team. It then moved to Zoom calls with each other, players, coaches and agents. One of the biggest moments was a meeting they organized with the League Office and Nike.
“We got to actually explain that we didn’t need V-neck shirts, we just wanted gear to fit properly,” Soliman said. “Even though that sounds insignificant to most, it helped a lot of women.”
Soliman and Raiche eventually started a mentorship program within the group, pairing women up from different teams.
“It feels great for us not to feel alone,” Soliman said. “To know that there are maybe 10 other women going through the same thing, but they got through it. It makes things easier.
Beyond the network within the NFL, Soliman also talks to women who reach out to her on other platforms who are seeking advice about scouting.
“I didn’t know that scouting was an option for me,” Soliman said. “So I just try to let everyone know of the options they have.”
Soliman’s impact goes beyond just women, but the Muslim community as well, being the only Muslim on the Eagles’ staff.
“It’s always cool to meet other Muslims because there aren’t many in football,” Soliman said. “And those of us who meet are always really supportive of each other and keep in contact.”
Soliman not only found a way to use football to support herself, but to support people all over the league.