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The NFL Hires Maia Chaka, the First Black Woman as an On-Field Official

When Chaka was a child, she would go outside with her younger brother and toss the football. Football became a passion for Chaka that she would play with the boys in her neighborhood and throughout her teens.

When it came to high school Chaka could not find a tackle football team because they would not accept girls, so she had to switch sports. It was not until she was in college at Norfolk State University in Virginia, where she rediscovered her love for the game in a new way as an official.

Chaka graduated with a bachelor’s in education and decided to take two careers at once, as a physical education teacher and a football referee. Throughout her career, Chaka has been officiating major collegiate events. In 2014, she is part of the NFL’s Officiating Development Program. The program takes officials at the college level and gives them exposure to the NFL level.

Chaka has spent a lot of time and energy in her career trying to make it to the NFL. Things started to become slower and slower for her, that she decided to take a step back and started to focus on becoming the best official that she could be at her current level. This step back really did help strengthen her talent and land her a new position.

On March 1, 2021, the NFL came out with an announcement that Chaka has been accepted to the NFL and she just couldn’t believe it. When her parents found out like the rest of the world, they were extremely proud of her.

In an interview with CBS News, Chaka said that nothing will change by saying, ” When I go back home to visit, I’ll still have to wash dishes and do all that stuff.”

Chaka, who is a teacher at the Virginia Beach public school system, has admitted that this shocking news still has not sunk in. This new role is very exciting for her and also what it means for her students.

“Some of the best things I’ve seen all day today were screenshots of things that my older students were posting on social media and some of the things they were saying – how much I changed their lives or what an inspiration I was and things that were just motivational for them,” she said.

Most of the officials in the NFL were always men and it wasn’t until Sarah Thomas, who also made history in becoming the first woman to be hired as a referee in the NFL. Thomas has opened doors for so many women, and now Chaka is also walking in her footsteps as well. Chaka has made it clear that she does not spend much time thinking about those who believe that she does not belong there because of her gender.

Chaka said on “The Today Show” that she wants her students have a passion for something and and pursue it. “If you have a passion for something and if you have a drive for something, don’t let it hold you back, just because you think that something may give you some type of limitation,” she said. “Just continue to work hard and always, always, always just follow your dreams”.

 

 

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