WNY Woman Makes History as First Black Woman to Referee NFL Game
History was made on Sunday, as a Western New Yorker became the first Black woman to officiate in an NFL game. Back on March 5, 2021, Maia Chaka became the first Black woman official in the National Football League. Maia said,
I am honored to be selected as an NFL official. But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.
She made HERstory on Sunday, September 12, 2021, when she officiated the game between the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, North Carolina. In a video tweeted by the NFL Sunday, Maia said,
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 is from Rochester but lives in Virginia, where she works as a health and physical education teacher. She started as a college referee, including working in the Pac-12 Conference. She became a part of the NFL's Officiating Development Program in 2014, which helped her get to the pro level. She graduated from Edison Tech High School, where she was a member of the basketball team. Her mother still lives at the home Maia was born in on Frost Avenue in Rochester.
Back in March, Troy Vincent, Sr., NFL executive vice president of football operations said,
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. 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.
Maia is the NFL's third woman official, joining Shannon Eastin and Sarah Thomas. I'm so happy to hear this news, but I do wonder what took so long...it's 2021 and the NFL has been around since 1920! It seems hard to believe that in the league's 100-year history, there's never been a qualified woman of color until now, ya feel me?!