Browse By

Norfolk State Alumni becomes first female African American NFL Referee

African Americans have been making history in all facets of sports, arts, entertainment, sciences, and anything else you can imagine. Although it has been many years since black people have been legally integrated into society, there are still many barriers being broken by African Americans today.

Norfolk State Alumni Maia Chaka has become the first female African American referee in National Football League history. Chaka, formerly a health teacher for almost 15 years in Virginia, fell in love with officiating the game of football starting at the high school level. She slowly moved up every level of the sport to Division I football in power 5 conferences, the XFL, and even the NFL’s developmental program for officials, which involved working team practices, and preseason games under the NFL evaluation. 

According to USA Today, Chaka claims that her motivation behind this was her former students.  “That should be motivation for you. It’s real important that they have representation right there in front of them. I also want them to know that it’s OK to step outside the box and work with people who are a little different from you. … A lot of times, especially with the kids I’m working with, they’re afraid to work with people that don’t look like them or don’t listen to the same music they listen to. They’re afraid to step outside their comfort zone,” Chaka said. 

Norfolk State University president Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston released a statement acknowleging Maia Chaka for breaking this barrier. Adams-Gaston said “We are so very proud of Maia Chaka for the history she made today by becoming the first Black female referee in the National Football League. She is a trailblazer, proudly representing NSU, Black women, and HBCUs. As I have learned more about Maia and her connection to NSU, her story should be one of inspiration for the entire Spartan community and for all women seeking careers in the sports entertainment industry.”