Western New York Woman Becomes First Black Female To Ref The NFL
"It’s a privilege that I’ve been chosen to represent women and women of color in the most popular sport in America."
That's what Maia Chaka said in a video posted by the NFL on Sunday. She made history for the organization as the first black female referee - and she's from right here in New York.
She has been working her way up in the industry and was a line judge Sunday night during the football game between the New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers.
According to Syracuse.com, Chaka was born and raised in Rochester, where her mother still lives. She played football as a youth and basketball at Edison Tech High School before attending Finger Lakes Community College.
Her journey continued after college when she became a physical education teacher in 2006. After winning awards and accolades for her teaching commitments to special needs students, her attraction grew to officiating. She was soon hired as a referee for Pac-12 and Conference USA football games.
“That’s when I knew it was possible and attainable that I could become an NFL official,” Chaka told the Democrat & Chronicle.
Chaka had to take part in the NFL Officiating Development Program. She developed the skills and gained experience, like refereeing games - to get her where she is today.
Chaka told the Democrat and Chronicle it took a lot of effort to get her where she is today, but she never gave up.
“Anything is possible,” Chaka said. “Rochester has so many stories of people who could never get it together. I almost became one of those people. I just knew what I wanted to do. I want young kids to understand that you have to be able to find your purpose in life, and you have to fight to have success, no matter how many obstacles you have to overcome.”
What an inspiration so close to home. She's such a great role model for many women and people of color at that.