New Falcons scouting coordinator ready to hit the ground running

A few weeks ago, Rushell Harvey looked at her buzzing phone. A 404 area code number was calling her, so she figured it was a telemarketer or a wrong number.

But something told her to call that person back. She's glad she did. 

"When I called back, we were all just getting back to work actually, so it was kind of loud and I couldn’t hear what he was saying, so I stepped out, and I was like, 'Well who is this?'" Harvey recalled. "And he was like, 'This is Thomas Dimitroff, the GM for the Falcons.' And I was like, ‘Oh!’ Now I can look back on it and laugh, like if I wouldn’t have called that number back, I would not be here right now."

Sam Rapoport, the NFL senior director of football development, referred Harvey after they met at the Women’s Careers in Football Forum at the NFL Combine back in February. Harvey said that was not only a great networking experience for her career but to find women who also are pursuing NFL careers. Once her new gig was announced by the Falcons on July 7, Harvey's inbox was flooded with congratulatory messages.

Falcons hired two women of color as their newest scouting coordinators. Rushell "Shelly" Harvey is one of them. (Courtesy of Rushell Harvey)

"So that made me feel welcome and know that I do have basically friends not only of course at the Falcons, but I have other people rooting for me in other divisions and other teams," she told FOX 5 Sports.

Harvey also met Kjahna O at that summit — the other new scouting coordinator the Falcons hired in June — and now they’re roommates learning on one another as they start new jobs remotely during the pandemic.
"I hope other teams can look at the Falcons as kind of a blueprint to say it doesn’t really matter about gender, because people will say football is a male-dominated industry, but I said actually in my interview: It’s male-prevalent," Harvey said. "There are women out there who love football too."

And Harvey said she has always loved football. She says she started considering a career in football during her junior year at LSU, where she was a three-time first-team All-American sprinter and anchored LSU’s 4x100-meter relay team that won the 2016 national title. But on football game days in Death Valley, she would always lament why the Tigers hadn’t run a certain play, "and my friends were like, 'You should just work in football!'"

Rushell "Shelly" Harvey was a three-time first-team All-American sprinter and anchored LSU’s 4x100-meter relay team that won the 2016 national title. (LSU Athletics)

After Harvey graduated, she did just that, as a football recruiting intern at LSU and then at Houston. She most recently was the on-campus recruiting coordinator at Tulane University, where she managed all aspects of on-campus and game day recruiting visits.

Now, she’s focusing on getting to know the Falcons roster and working in the NFL.

"Everything has happened so quickly I would say. But every day I’m basically waking up and living my dream out. I’ve done the things that I thought were long term goals in a short span of maybe two years," she said. "It’s weird to say right now. I think it’s hit me but it still hasn’t truly hit me. I think once I walk through those doors and put the gear on, I think that’s when it’ll be like first day of school."

And that first day of school could be when training camp kicks off, with the Falcons' camp still on track to begin on Tuesday.