Considering everything this country has done to keep black people down. Black firsts are monumental. You may not know who was the first white baseball player. But probabilities are high sports fans know Jackie Robinson as the first black baseball player.
The history books will now add a black woman by the name of Maia Chaka to its pages. Her name will echo for generations to come in the sports world.
Chaka has been added to the NFL roster of game officials for the 2021 season, the league announced.
This will not be an opinionated column instead one that strictly lifts a black woman as she rises through a predominately male-driven career field. Chaka earned it.
Chaka makes history as the first Black woman ever named to the NFL’s officiating staff.
“I am honored to be selected as an NFL official,” Chaka said. “But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”
Chaka enters the NFL after an outstanding collegiate officiating career, including stints in the Pac-12 Conference and Conference USA.
In 2014, Chaka was selected for the NFL’s Officiating Development Program, which identifies top collegiate officiating talent to expose them to some of the same experiences as NFL officials, working to determine if they can succeed as an NFL official.
“Maia’s years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance – including as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program – have earned her a position as an NFL official,” said Troy Vincent, SR., NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations. “As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Maia is a trailblazer as the first Black female official and inspires us toward normalizing women on the football field.”
A health and physical education teacher in the Virginia Beach public school system, Chaka, age 38, has been dedicated to improving the lives of children throughout her professional career. A graduate of Norfolk State University, Chaka earned her bachelor’s in education in 2006 before embarking on her teaching and officiating careers.
“I teach the at-risk youth at home in Virginia Beach; it gives those girls an opportunity to see my teacher can work with people that don’t look like her,” Chaika said. “Maybe that gives me an opportunity to work with people who don’t look like me also.”
Chaika joins Sarah Thomas, who broke the NFL gender barrier as the first female official in 2015, the first woman to officiate the Super Bowl.
“As long as you put in the work, and you have a strong work ethic and your strive for greatness and strive to get better, all your dreams, goals, and aspirations will come true,” Chaika said.
Maia Chaka, the name will reverberate for ages.