VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Maia Chaka has made history as the first Black female official in the NFL.
The league made the announcement Friday morning on the Today Show.
She will also be only the second woman ever to officiate an NFL regular-season game. Sarah Thomas made history in 2015 and recently became the first female referee to work the Super Bowl.
Chaka and Thomas were actually the only two women selected for an NFL officiating developmental program seven years ago. Scouts picked up on Chaka’s talents while watching her officiate college games. She first started locally at the high school level.
The Today Show reports Chaka got the call that she was joining the ranks of NFL officials on March 1 from Wayne Mackie, the NFL’s vice president of officiating evaluation and development.
“He goes, ‘Welcome to the National Football League,’ and I just went nuts,” Chaka said. “I asked him, ‘Hey are you punking me, you’ve gotta be kidding me,’ because I’ve been at it for so long I just never thought the day would come. I just enjoyed working.”
Chaka is a health and physical education teacher at Renaissance Academy in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Norfolk State University graduate has been working with at-risk youth there for the past decade.
She said overall, her achievements are big for representation, especially for the kids at her school.
“The amazing thing about athletics period, it brings a lot of people together,” Chaka said on ESPN during an XFL broadcast last year. “And by me being a teacher at home, I teach at-risk youth at home in Virginia Beach, it gives those girls the opportunity to see, ‘Okay, I see my teacher can work with some people that don’t look like her and maybe that gives me the opportunity to work with people that don’t look like me also.’ So it increases diversity all around.”