Maia Chaka made history on Sunday as the first Black female to officiate an NFL game.
Maia made her mark on history in Charlotte, North Carolina, officiating in the match between the New York Jets at the Carolina Panthers.
“This historic moment to me is an honor and it’s a privilege that I’ve been chosen to represent women and women of color in the most popular sport in America,” she shared in a video tweeted by the NFL.
Maia Chaka is the third on-field female official in the NFL, joining fellow female trendsetters Sarah Thomas, the first permanent female game official, and Shannon Eastin – who was the first woman to officiate an NFL game this year at Super Bowl LV for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs.
Chaka is a health and physical education teacher for at-risk students. She spent time as a referee in the NCAA in the PAC-12 conference and Conference USA as well as a small tenure in the Alliance of American Football and the XFL. Maia is showing her students that hard work pays off…and anything is possible.
She entered the NFL’s Officiating Development Program in 2014 – a program designed to offer top officiating prospects in the collegiate ranks “exposure to in-game experiences that NFL officials face, to determine if they have the ability to succeed,” according to the NFL.
In March the NFL announced that it was adding Chaka to its roster of game officials for 2021. Sunday, September 20, 2021, was her first season match. Chaka is the second woman hired as a full-time NFL official.
The NFL hired its first Black official ever, Burl Toler, in 1965.
Chaka revealed in a video “Hopefully, that just gives somebody else some inspiration and empowers them to step outside the box and do something different.”