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NFL’s First Black Woman Referee

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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 Golf Tour Reaches Landmark Moment With $1 Million in Prize Money

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Officials with APGA Tour, a nonprofit organization with the mission to prepare African Americans and other minority golfers to compete and win at the highest level of professional golf, recently announced that Farmers Insurance has committed an additional $25,000 for the APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Fall Series Finale. This additional prize money means that for the first time in APGA Tour history, prize and bonus payouts for players will reach $1 million in a single season.

“We launched the APGA Tour in 2010 thanks to a $10,000 contribution that came from Farmers Insurance. It’s fitting that we hit this truly remarkable milestone with a contribution from Farmers 12 years later,” said APGA Tour CEO Ken Bentley. “When our 2022 season comes to a conclusion, we will have played 18 tournaments at PGA TOUR caliber venues. Thanks to our sponsors like Farmers, Lexus, Cisco, World Wide Technology, Mastercard, Ascension and ADP, our players have the financial support and opportunities to progress and chase their dreams in the professional game. The support of the PGA TOUR and their partners has been instrumental as well in the APGA Tour accomplishing this landmark moment.”

“Congratulations to the APGA Tour on achieving this incredible milestone in its work to grow diversity and inclusivity in the game of golf,” said Jeff Dailey, President & Chief Executive Officer, Farmers Insurance. “Farmers has been a proud supporter of the APGA Tour since its earliest beginnings, and we look forward to celebrating the ongoing success of the organization and its players at the Fall Series Finale in Tustin later this month.”

Tim O’Neal, who recently made his PGA TOUR Champions debut, was part of the first season on the APGA Tour (Advocates Professional Golf Association)  and has seen, firsthand, the growth of the developmental circuit.

“It’s amazing to witness how the APGA Tour impacted the careers of many young minority golfers,” O’Neal said. “Golf is such a difficult profession as the costs of playing often far exceed the amount of money a golfer can earn. With the resources the APGA Tour is now providing, along with the purses and prize money associated with APGA Tour events, minority players are going to have a lot more opportunities to play top-level venues while earning an income that can better support their ability to improve their game and achieve their dreams.”

For the second consecutive year, Farmers Insurance teamed up with APGA Tour to stage the APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Fall Series, with tournaments taking place in the greater St. LouisPhiladelphiaHouston, and Los Angeles areas. The APGA Tour Farmers Insurance Fall Series was designed to further the APGA Tour’s mission of bringing greater diversity to the game of golf and to provide additional playing and earning opportunities to APGA Tour players.

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Roadrunners Take Conference USA Lead

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Photo by LaNell Taylor

UTSA Roadrunners vs. the University of North Texas Mean Green lived up to the week-long hype. This was UTSA’s homecoming game and more importantly a rally to take first place in Conference USA. UTSA was tied with the Mean Green heading into this game and were trying to avoid a repeat of last year’s 45-23 upset.

A “nail biter” is probably an understatement for the crowd of 27,122 who were on edge as they witnessed the UTSA Roadrunners battle against the University of North Texas Mean Green to take first place in Conference USA inside the Alamodome on Saturday. Early in the first quarter uncertainty began when quarterback Frank Harris’ pass was intercepted by UNT’s Ridge Texada. He ran for 6 yards to set the Mean Green up on the 42-yard line, eventually leading UNT to getting on the board with a 49-yard field goal. After a Frank Harris sack, failure to convert on fourth down, and a failed field goal attempt, with 12 seconds left in the first quarter UNT kicked another field goal and lead the first quarter 6-0.

The Roadrunners managed to get on the board after a Mean Green turnover and a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter, but they trailed going into halftime 6-3. UTSA scored their first touchdown of the game in the third quarter to take the lead 10-6, but the lead was short lived. It wasn’t long before the Mean Green kicked another field goal and ended the third quarter 13-10. This quarter was about as stressful as the first half.

Going into the fourth quarter after an exchange in leads, fans feared another upset when UNT’s quarterback Austin Aune tossed a 1-yard pass to Isaiah Johnson to retake the lead 27-24 with only 1:38 remaining for UTSA to take possession. Responding to the Mean Green’s previous touchdown, the saying “it ain’t over until it’s over” became reality in the last 15 seconds of the game when Harris threw a 10-yard pass to De’Corian Clark for the final touchdown of the game to take the first place lead in Conference USA. The final score was 31-27. UTSA is now 6-2, 4-0 in conference. This was the Roadrunners 5th straight win, Coach Traylor’s 200th career win, and the team is now bowl eligible.

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The Stage Is Set

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The NFL season is just a few weeks in, but the halftime time show is booked. Singer, actress, and business woman Rihanna will headline the 2023 NFL Super Bowl halftime show in Glendale, Arizona on February 12, 2023. This will be her first performance since she performed in public at the 2018 Grammy Awards, and since her 2016 album release. In 2018 it was reported that Rihanna and a number of other artist declined an invitation to perform at the Super Bowl in support of Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who was at the center of a National Anthem kneeling controversy.

Rihanna, Rock Nation and the NFL are believed to bring music and sports fans a momentous show. This will be Apple Music’s first time sponsoring the halftime show as they have now replaced long time sponsor Pepsi.

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