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NFL’s First Black Woman Referee



Maia Chaka made history in early March becoming only the second woman and the very first Black woman to be hired as an NFL referee since the league was founded in 1920. Chaka was added to the NFL roster 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.”

“It didn’t really hit me until just now,” Chaka said on The Today Show. “When I saw the introduction, I’m like, ‘This is really real,’ because this is just something that we’re just always taught to work hard for. Sometimes we just don’t take time to stop and smell our own roses.”

Chaka, a 2006 HBCU graduate of Norfolk State University earned her Bachelor’s degree in education. Currently she is a health and physical education teacher at Renaissance Academy where she teaches at-risk youth. She once received a Teacher of the Year award a few years back.

In 2014, Chaka made history as one of the first women officials to work a FBS bowl game. She has worked NFL preseason games as part of the developmental program, but now she will be part of the crew for regular-season action. She began her career in 2006 officiating high school games and then moved up in the college ranks to Conference USA and then the Pac-12 Conference, according to The Virginian-Pilot. Chaka most recently has been working Pac-12 games and also worked the sidelines for the short-lived XFL last year.

Chaka hopes to encourage young people, especially her students to reach for their dreams.

“I just want them to know if you have a passion for something and if you have a drive for something, don’t let it hold you back just because you think that something may give you some type of limitation,” she said. “Just continue to work hard and always, always, always just follow your dreams.”

What a proud and distinguished honor to earn during Women’s History Month! Congratulations Maia Chaka!

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Black Life Texas

I’m Not Back, I’m Better!



Two Black female athletes recently brought their magic to premier competitions – silencing haters who doubted them. 

Sha’Carri Richardson, 23, now has her sights set on the Olympics in Paris in 2024 after snagging two gold medals at the World Championships in Hungary. She won gold in the women’s 100m final to take the race in 10.65 seconds for her first international title. Her U.S. team easily took another gold in the 4x100m relay final, beating the top Jamaican sprinters. Richardson finished her medal collection, taking bronze in the 200m final. 

To take part in Paris 2024, athletes must be selected by their National Olympic Committee (NOC). NOCs have the final say about whether these athletes will be chosen for their respective NOC teams for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Richardson, from Dallas, tested positive for cannabis in 2021 in the U.S. Olympic trials –  a substance banned under World Anti-Doping Agency rules. Her one-month suspension cost her a spot on the American team for the Tokyo Olympics. The following season proved difficult as she failed to qualify for the U.S. World Championships team.

Richardson has coined the quote, “I’m not back, I’m better.”

Back in America, during the World Championships, gymnast Simone Biles clinched her eighth win in the U.S. Championships in Northern California – something no male or female gymnast has done until now. 

Biles, a seven-time Olympic medallist, competed in just her second competition since withdrawing from the women’s team final and four subsequent individual finals to focus on her mental health at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. 

It’s been 10 years since Biles, now 26, first soared to the top of the gymnastics world, claiming her first U.S. title at the 2013 nationals. Not bad for the newlywed who married Jonathan Owens, a safety for the Green Bay Packers, earlier this year.

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Black Life Texas

Spurs Fans Have “Wembamania”



San Antonio Spurs fans celebrated hope on May 16 as news broke for the third time in franchise history that it won the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery. People were honking their car horns downtown, packing bars, and the Spurs sales office was fully staffed, making thousands of dollars from ticket sales.

It’s no secret that basketball phenom Victor Wembanyama, also known as “Wemby” will be headed to San Antonio when the Spurs are predicted to pick him on June 22 in the draft. Spurs fans once had Manu Mania, and now “Wembamania” is surfacing on t-shirts. 

The Spurs celebration is a sign of relief for many fans who witnessed their beloved team lose 60 games during the regular season, which tied for the second-worst record in the league with the Houston Rockets. The Spurs have had two other No. 1 draft picks in franchise history – David Robinson and Tim Duncan. The news of the No. 1 pick this year couldn’t be sweeter since this year also marks the Spurs’ 50th anniversary. 

When Wembanyama was sporting a Tony Parker jersey at a young age, who would have known he would be heading to the Alamo City years later? Now at the age of 19, who is he? He is a 7’2 French pro baller who has played for French teams owned by former Spurs players Tony Parker and Boris Diaw. Parker is the most notable French NBA player who was drafted in 2001.

Wembanyama is said to have an eight-foot wingspan, meaning he likely won’t have to jump to block shots. And he is dearly loved in his home country since he’s already played for France’s junior and national basketball teams. 
Wembanyama said in an NBA interview he’s excited to go to “Texas and help the Spurs compete for championships.”

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Black Life Texas

XFL’s San Antonio Brahmas Begin Season



The San Antonio Brahmas opened their 2023 campaign at the Alamodome on Feb. 19 against the St. Louis Battlehawks. About 24,000 fans cheered on the two teams. The game, which was broadcast on ABC, featured guest appearances by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and XFL co-owner Dwayne Johnson.

Even though the Brahams (15) fell to the Battlehawks (18), XFL Chairwoman Dany Garcia announced before the game that the XFL Championship Game would be played in San Antonio at the end of the season. The XFL will play a 10-week regular season, consisting of each team playing 10 games, five at home and five on the road. The teams will play their division rivals twice and teams from the other division once. The season will conclude with the XFL Championship game on Saturday, May 13, at 3 pm on ABC.

Dwayne “The Rock,” Johnson told San Antonio fans he began his wrestling career at the Alamodome. Johnson has since starred in more than 50 films. 

Brahmas head coach, Hines Ward, is a bit of a celebrity himself. He competed in and won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2011. He also starred as a football player in the 2012 Batman blockbuster, “The Dark Knight Rises.” Ward played 14 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, winning two Super Bowls — including Super Bowl XL MVP — and earning a spot in the team’s Hall of Honor. He participated in the 2013 Ironman World Championships. Ward started his coaching career as an intern with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He followed that as an assistant coach with the New York Jets and then Florida Atlantic University and spent time as the Alliance of American Football’s director of player development.

The Brahmas play their next game on Feb. 26 in Orlando against the Orlando Guardians and play their last game on April 22 back in the Alamodome against the DC Defenders.

The eight teams of the XFL are split into two divisions – the North Division is home to the D.C. Defenders, Seattle Sea Dragons, St. Louis Battlehawks, and Vegas Vipers. At the same time, the Arlington Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Orlando Guardians, and San Antonio Brahmas will do battle in the South Division.

The league will build on what was started in 2020 by carrying over several rules and includes innovative changes in clock management, play reviews, and late-game possession designed to improve gameplay and enhance the fan-viewing experience. 

San Antonio Brahmas Quarterback Jack Coan said his team and coach have been developing chemistry that will hopefully translate onto the field.

“You come into this new league and don’t really know what to expect. You really don’t know any of the guys on the team, what the offensive is going to be, what the scheme is going to be,” he said on the XFL website. “Just trying to learn as much as you can each and every day…I think a really important part of that is just really good to know everybody. I think Coach Ward’s has done a great job of building a family atmosphere here. I think we have a really close-knit team. I feel like the chemistry has grown each and every day throughout camp. I’m really happy with where we’re at right now. We’re going to just continue to get better each and every day.”

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