Maia Chaka is making NFL history after becoming the first Black woman to be named game official by the league.
According to NBC’s TODAY Show, Chaka got the call about the position on Monday and literally couldn’t believe it. “Just because I’ve been at it for so long and I just never thought the day would come,” she said.
The moment “didn’t really hit me until just now,” she continued. “Sometimes we don’t take time to stop and smell our own roses.”
Chaka, who has been training with the NFL since 2014, said her new job is “an honor.” She says the best referees have to be patient, be able to listen “and you need to have the confidence on the field to make the call.”
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“You’re going to make mistakes and it’s not necessarily how many mistakes you make but It’s how you recover,” Chaka said.
The TODAY Show reports that Maia Chaka is also a physical education and health teacher for at-risk youth in Virginia Beach. She has previously worked on the sidelines of XFL and college football games. She hopes her new role can inspire her students.
“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 says. “Work hard, and always, always, always follow your dreams.”
Chaka becomes the second-ever female NFL referee. Sarah Thomas was hired in 2015 as the first full-time women official. Last month, she became the first woman to officiate in a Super Bowl.