With Ameena Soliman’s new job, the length of her commute jumped from a 10-minute walk to a two-and-a-half-hour trek to New York City.
She used to wake up early to go to Edberg-Olson Hall. She still wakes up early, but now to head to the NFL’s headquarters.
Before the career change in December, Soliman, a 2017 finance and marketing alumna, spent seven of her eight undergraduate semesters working in the Temple football team’s recruiting operations department before working the 2017 season as a graduate assistant in operations and recruiting.
Soliman was “pretty much doing everything that’s kind of involved with running a program aside from the actual football part,” she said. Then she went to night class and returned to Edberg-Olson Hall to complete any other remaining tasks — and did it all again the next day.
When Soliman announced her new job at the NFL on Twitter and thanked the football program on Dec. 22, players and coaches responded with congratulatory messages.
“She was a great ambassador for us, and certainly, recruiting is about relationships so we’re an extension of our head football coach and our coaching staff,” Director of Player Personnel Tom Pajic said. “That’s probably the part I’m going to miss the most is just being around everybody,” Soliman said. “It’s a great group of people. … And I think regardless of the fact that some of them graduated and I’m not there anymore, I think I’ll still have a relationship with some of them moving forward.”
Soliman grew up as a Philadelphia Eagles fan watching former quarterback Donovan McNabb, who amassed 92 wins, 32,873 passing yards, 216 touchdowns and 100 interceptions with the team from 1999-2009. Once she arrived at Temple, she knew she wanted to work with the football team, but she didn’t know in what capacity.
After starting in Spring 2014, Soliman helped plan team activities like bowling trips as part of her operations duties. During the 2017 season, she helped show prospective players and their families around Lincoln Financial Field’s parking lot during the tailgates before home games and made the playlist for practices.
Before the season, Temple held summer football camps at Chodoff Field that more than 2,000 players attended. Soliman sifted through data to help create lists for the coaching staff to use when recruiting, Pajic said. She also tutored at least 15-20 players during her time at Temple, she said.
In Fall 2017, Soliman was enrolled as a master’s student in sports business. She had planned to stay longer to complete the two-year program. Soliman said she’ll likely restart her progress in the fall via online classes, but the opportunity at the NFL she had was too good to pass up, she said.
Soliman works in player personnel monitoring daily roster transactions, researching draft-eligible prospects, working with the salary department and tracking where prospective coaching candidates interview.
She interned in the same NFL department in Summer 2016, which helped her get the job, she said. Her colleagues from her internship contacted her during Temple’s season to inform her of an opening at the league office.
One of the people whom Soliman works with at the NFL office is Dan Van Norton, who played for Temple from 2009-12. Van Norton met Soliman while he was an intern with MLB from 2014-15 and a group of students from the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management visited. They have stayed in touch since then.
“For her to really just grow from being someone who’s helping out seasonally to being put into a position where she is a graduate assistant is really impressive, and it kind of is a tribute to her body of work,” Van Norton said.
Temple wasn’t Soliman’s first-choice school, she said, but it wound up benefitting her because some of the other schools she was considering didn’t have football teams. She could not have sent an email asking how to get involved, like she did to former director of football operations Sean Padden in Fall 2013.
“Overall, it was awesome,” Soliman said. “I loved it a lot more than I thought I would. … Had I not come here, my life could have been completely different with where I’m at right now.”