Maia Chaka has made NFL history.
The Virginia health and physical education teacher has been hired as an on-field official for the league’s 2021 season, making her the first Black woman to hold the coveted position. The NFL announced the news Friday, nearly six years after it hired Sarah Thomas as its first full-time female official.
“I am honored to be selected as an NFL official. But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment,” Chaka said in a statement. “It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”
The Norfolk State graduate has been a teacher at Renaissance Academy in Virginia Beach, Va. since 2006, when she began officiating high school games. She went on to work in the Pac-12 Conference and Conference USA before a brief stint in the XFL in 2020. She and Thomas were the only women to be selected for the NFL Officiating Development Program, which provides education and training to top collegiate officials who have yet to be hired by the league.
“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.”