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Former Virginia teacher named NFL's first Black female referee

In a statement, Chaka said "this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”

WASHINGTON — Maia Chaka has officially become the first Black woman added to the NFL's officiating roster, the league announced Friday.

In a statement, the NFL said Chaka is on the staff of game officials for the 2021 season.

“I am honored to be selected as an NFL official,” Chaka said in a statement. “But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”

The NFL said Chaka has experience working as an official on the college level for the Pac-12 Conference and Conference USA. In 2014, she joined the NFL’s Officiating Development Program, which "identifies top collegiate officiating talent to expose them to some of the same experiences as NFL officials," the NFL said.

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“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,” said Troy Vincent, Sr., NFL executive vice president of football operations., in a statement.

He added, "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.”

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Chaka is a health and physical education teacher from Virginia Beach, Va., the NFL said. She's also a graduate of Norfolk State University, where she earned her bachelor’s in education in 2006.

Credit: AP
Referee Maia Chaka in action during the first half of a preseason NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Ravens, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In 2015, Sarah Thomas was the first female hired as a full-time NFL official. Last month, Thomas made history again by becoming the first woman to officiate in the Super Bowl.