When pro scout Ameena Soliman, FOX ’17, STH ’19, heads into work each day at the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia, she’s tasked with using her powers of observation—always watching to see how things look. Like whether an upcoming Eagles’ opponent appears to have tendencies that can be exploited.
Calling the plays
But what about the way she appears? A woman wearing a hijab is not a common sight among the ranks of the NFL—not on the field, not on the sidelines, not in the boardroom. As the first Muslim woman to hold her position in the NFL—a trailblazer for her faith and gender—Soliman lets her professionalism do the talking.
“Just being around football, you have to be prepared for how to handle yourself in that environment and in groups of people,” she said. “You have to carry yourself in a professional way in everything that you do.”
While studying film is the meat and potatoes of Soliman’s day-to-day job, it’s the time spent out of office where things get most exciting.
During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Eagles scouting personnel staggered their time inside the NovaCare Complex. With internship programs also sidelined, Soliman volunteered to handle what seemed to be a menial task: videotaping the defensive line as they practiced.
Instead, she turned it into an education, listening closely when, for example, Eagles defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham talked about the intricacies of the game, and paying attention to the smallest details during all conversations.
“Coaches and players see it at a whole different level,” Soliman said. “During drills, a coach will say, ‘No, your foot’s wrong. Your toes are too far off to the left.’ Some of those details I wouldn’t otherwise know.”
But Soliman learned fast.
Now when the Eagles have an away game scheduled, she hits the road a week in advance to get her well-trained eyes on the opposing players. Her responsibilities become amplified, urgent. She and other scouts watch through binoculars, scanning the field and sidelines for anything unexpected, like an injury.
“We’re basically looking for anything we can see in-game that we didn’t see on the practice film,” Soliman said.
From Owl to Eagle
Soliman’s journey all started in 2014, as a tutor for Temple’s student-athletes. There’s been no stopping her since.
She was later hired as a recruiting intern for the Owls football team, a position she held for three of the most successful years in program history, including the landmark 27-10 win over Penn State in 2015 and first conference championship in more than 40 years.
After graduation, she spent seven months as a graduate assistant, helping stabilize the program and recruiting pipeline following the departure of then Head Coach Matt Rhule.
“It was a well-run program, with good staff,” Soliman said, pointing out that numerous other Owl personnel now work with teams throughout the league.
The NFL then hired Soliman to work as a player personnel assistant at its league headquarters in New York City. Still a resident of Philadelphia, she began commuting by bus, nearly three hours each way. It was a great opportunity, but she told her manager, NFL vice president for player personnel Ken Fiore, that she missed the camaraderie inherent in working for a team.
Just a few months later, Fiore told her an NFL team was looking for a training camp intern. It happened to be the freshly-minted Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. Soliman took the leap to join her hometown team, then quickly advanced from intern to scouting assistant, to personnel coordinator and finally to professional scout.
“It worked out perfectly. But I don’t think I would have had the opportunity or taken it if it wasn’t for the people who supported me and pushed me to do it,” Soliman said.