This week, Maia Chaka got the call of a lifetime. The NFL informed the Virginia teacher that she had been offered a position to referee in the league full-time. By earning the role, Chaka became the second woman to receive the title and the first Black woman to have the job. The moment was so overwhelming that Chaka nearly didn't believe it at first.
"It’s just an honor to join the National Football League," Chaka told the hosts of the TODAY show.
"Just because I’ve been at it for so long and I just never thought the day would come."
Chaka is a woman of many talents. In addition to working as an official, she also teaches physical education and health to the youth in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She embarked on this journey as a referee in 2014. Over time, she's worked her way through the ranks of the league's development program and served as a referee during the 2020 XFL season. Through these experiences, Chaka has gained the knowledge needed to referee games in the nation's most popular sports league.
"You need to have the confidence on the field to make the call," Chaka said.
"You’re going to make mistakes and it’s not necessarily how many mistakes you make but It’s how you recover."
As the first Black woman to work NFL games, she hopes this will help inspire other young women to chase their dreams in the NFL. Alongside Chaka, Jennifer King recently became the first Black woman to receive a full-time coaching offer in the NFL.
"If you have a passion for something or you have the drive for something, don’t let it hold you back just because you think that something may give you some type of limitation," she explained.
"Work hard, and always, always, always follow your dreams."
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