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Alumna 1st Black Woman NFL Ref

by Stan Donaldson -

Norfolk State University President Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston Releases Statement about Norfolk State University Alumna Maia Chaka Becoming the National Football League’s First Black Woman Referee

Maia ChakaNorfolk State University President Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston released the following statement about Maia Chaka, a 2006 NSU graduate, who was named today to the National Football League’s roster of game officials for the 2021 season and becoming the first Black woman referee in the history of the organization.

“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.”

Adams-Gaston also stated that “Maia has worked hard to accomplish her goal of becoming a professional referee. She participated in the NFL’s Officiating Development program and honed her skills on the collegiate level by officiating football games in Conference USA and the Pac-12. She did this all while serving as an educator to children in the Virginia Beach City Public Schools system—this shows her heart and that she cares about her community. We are very happy for Maia and her family and proud she is a Spartan.”

Chaka, who is originally from Rochester, New York, said that Norfolk State University is a special place to her.

“I was able to see so many people of color who were smart and in successful positions…that was very inspiring to me,” Chaka said. “The representation that I was able to see, both on and off-campus, helped to fuel my drive to want to be successful.”

Former NSU Athletics Director Marty Miller, who has known Chaka since her time as a student at NSU, said “she never gave up on her goal of becoming a professional game official.” Miller said he has “watched her officiate several football games at the collegiate level and has seen her improve every year. She will be a great referee at the next level. I’m so happy for Maia because she has worked very hard at this,”

Miller added “Maia is a great example of the types of students who attend NSU. They work hard. They never give up and overcome challenges. They reach their goals.”

Maia received her bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State, majoring in Health, Physical Education, and Exercise Science. She also participated in the Teacher’s certification program and served as a member of the Health, Physical Education, and Exercise Science Majors Club. A frequent attendee of conferences focusing on Health, Physical Education, and Exercise Science, Maia was heavily engaged in a community supporting the advocacy for health, fitness, and wellness.

Maia’s was interviewed on NBC’s Today Show. The interview can be viewed here.