Updated: March 05, 2021 11:31 PM
Created: March 05, 2021 10:56 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- Rochester native Maia Chaka is a trailblazer as the first Black female official to make calls on NFL fields. It's a role that NFL officials say make her an inspiration toward normalizing women on the football field.
Chaka says that she feels like she really owes it to the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester for giving her the opportunity to be active as a kid.
She labels herself as a "typical inner-city girl" who misses "Country Sweet Wings". She still has their number memorized to this day. While she's honored to have this title, she hopes her journey will empower women around the world.
"It's really starting to hit me that this is actually a really big moment not just for me but it’s also a huge moment for my community.” Chaka says.
Chaka says nothing beats a blast from the past, and she’ll always miss her Flower City home.
"I worked at Market Place Mall like forever, I think my first job in there was working in the food court.”
She says she spent a lot of time at the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester in her pre-teen years. Now that she's made a dream a reality, she says she prides herself on inspiring younger generations to do the same.
"I think that's where a lot of my passion of just wanting to be around younger kids and wanting to be able to inspire kids came from.”
Making it to the big leagues wasn't easy. Chaka says jumping from high school to division one college football was a tough obstacle.
"Once you're used to that quick first jump, you kind of put this expectation on yourself where everything is going to start coming easy, and that couldn't be the furthest from the truth.”
Chaka entered the NFL after working in the PAC-12 and Conference USA. After being selected in 2014 for the NFL's officiating development program, she says her first pre-season game was something she'll never forget.
"I realized, holy smokes, these guys are fast and they're big.”
But that didn't stop her from going back to the drawing board to make a play on how to become one of the best. Years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance earned her the "NFL Official" title.
"It’s learning how to deal with different coaches on the sideline and understanding the rules and what I needed to be as a professional in order to be successful, I realize I had to back and learn it all over again and learn it the right way.”
When we asked Chaka who her favorite team was, her response was simple:
"The refs, because they're undefeated every game and they win the Super Bowl every year".
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