By HALEY YAMADA and ERIC NOLL, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Maia Chaka will become the first Black female on-field official in NFL history, the league announced on Friday.
Chaka, who has officiated college football and XFL games, will begin her new role this upcoming season.
When not on the field, she’s a teacher for at-risk youth at her home in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Chaka told ESPN she wants to inspire young girls both on and off the field.
“It gives those girls an opportunity to see, ‘OK, I can see my teacher works with people who don’t look like her, and maybe it gives me an opportunity to work with people who don’t look like me also,"” Chaka told ESPN.
Chaka will join Sarah Thomas, who broke the league’s gender barrier among officials in 2015 and went on to become the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl, earlier this year.
“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,” NFL Vice President Troy Vincent said in a statement.
Chaka told “World News Tonight” about the moment she received the call. She said she couldn’t believe the good news.
“I’m so excited to be a member of the National Football League’s officiating staff. I will always remember that day,” she said. “My response was, ‘I think I’m getting punked!"”
Chaka said she owes the opportunity to working hard and helping others work hard.
“As long as you put in the work and you have a strong work ethic, and you strive for greatness and strive to get better, all your dreams and goals and aspirations will always come true,” she said.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.