Maia Chaka is the first Black woman to be named an official for the NFL.
By day, Maia Chaka is a health and physical education teacher at a Virginia Beach public school. By night, she dons her black-and-white striped shirt and steps onto the field of various NFL stadiums as the first Black woman to join the league's officiating staff. Chaka always felt comfortable on the football field, even while growing up in Rochester, N.Y. "I think that's why they picked me," Chaka said of the boys in her neighborhood. "If they did try to exclude me, I would bully my way on the field. But they never made me feel lesser than. I was always one of the better athletes and the boys welcomed that." In 2011, Chaka began working as a college football official for the Pac-12 Conference and Conference USA before joining the NFL's Officiating Development Program in 2014. Her appointment as an NFL official was announced in March, during Women's History Month. Chaka told her hometown newspaper that she didn't have any nerves about making her big league debut. "If I fail, I might let some people down, but I can't let that play in my mind because I'm so focused on what I need to do to make sure I'm successful."