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NFL Hires First Black Female On-Field Referee

Maia Chaka will join Sarah Thomas as the women to officiate an NFL game.

The NFL recently hired its first female referee and now they’ve made news again by hiring another, this time a woman named Maia Chaka.

Chaka will join Sarah Thomas as the women to officiate an NFL game. Thomas was hired back in 2015 and worked on the crew that officiated Super Bowl LV this past February. The announcement that Chaka had been hired came on a segment of the “Today” show this past Friday. 

Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive VP 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,” he would continue on to say. 


Chaka has spent her career of more than 14 years teaching health and physical education at Renaissance Academy in Virginia. After her college career. Chaka wanted to become a basketball referee which seemed natural to her being that she played basketball in college at Finger Lakes Community College in New York. That same year she began teaching full-time and when she mentioned to a colleague that she wanted to referee basketball games, he suggested that she try football because the training sessions come before the basketball season. 

She was apprehensive about the idea at first because she knew very little about football, but she would later go from working high school games to Conference USA to the Pac-12 Conference. She did a short stint in the XFL, and since 2014, Chaka has participated in the NFL’s developmental program for officials. 

The NFL’s program for officials involves clinics, working team practices at OTAs and mini-camps, college all-star game assignments, preseason games, and evaluations from NFL supervisors. 


The NFL has always been a boys’ club, but women are really making their mark on the sport. In February we saw the first woman official during a Super Bowl and now we are going to have a second one for the upcoming season. These historic moments are creating doors for women that haven’t always been there especially when it comes to men’s sports. 

Women are breaking down barriers into new arenas and smash through glass ceilings on the business side of things; I for one, am happy to see that women are getting into places they weren’t before because they can do just about everything a man can do and some even do it better.

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