U instructor doubles as Minnesota RollerGirl

Evonne Bilotta-Burke also goes by the name BOOMbay Safire.

Evonne Bilotta-Burke is a RollerGirl, an Associate to the Director of the Multicultural Center and an instructor in the leadership department at the University.

Ryan Siverson Photography

Evonne Bilotta-Burke is a RollerGirl, an Associate to the Director of the Multicultural Center and an instructor in the leadership department at the University.

Sam Kraemer

Evonne Bilotta-Burke was skeptical of roller derby when her friends introduced her to it years ago. But she decided to give it a chance, she said, which eventually lead to a spot on the Twin Cities’ all-female league, RollerGirls.

Bilotta-Burke, a University of Minnesota staff member, said the hobby allows her to express herself and flex her athletic skills, and it is an empowering activity that’s outside of her day-to-day work at the school.

Bilotta-Burke said RollerGirls has allowed her to take on an aggressive persona, which comes complete with her roller derby nickname: BOOMbay Safire or “Boom” for short. And because of her blocker position, the name is especially fitting.

“As a Minnesota RollerGirl, we don’t say ‘sorry.’ We don’t yield. We fight for every inch on the track,” she said. “The Boom is a bit of an ode to violence, like when I hit you, you’ll know.”

Bilotta-Burke balances the hobby with a full-time job on the University’s Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence staff and an instructor position at the school. She joined the RollerGirls in 2009.

And joining the team was a simple decision, Bilotta-Burke said.

She was an athlete as a kid and fell in love with the RollerGirls’ atmosphere early on.

“It was nothing like I thought it’d be,” Bilotta-Burke said. “There was an energy that I was really drawn to.”

She also said she enjoyed how the team’s attitude empowers women.

Bilotta-Burke said her spot on the team has changed her perspective on the beauty of self-expression.

For example, she wears orange braids in her hair that match the colors of her roller derby team, the Atomic Bombshells, as a form of expression.

Bilotta-Burke also serves as a member on the league’s executive board. She took the position over after her teammate, Brandy Krow, who’s also known as Bully Jean, left it.

Krow said Bilotta-Burke is a great fit for the role.

“She’s the heart of this team. The contributions she makes to the team are outstanding,” Krow said. “Boom embodies what it means to be an Atomic Bombshell.”

The Atomic Bombshells, like each of the three other Minnesota RollerGirls teams, practice three times a week in two-hour periods.

And team members strive to go above participation requirements in practice, philanthropy and elsewhere.

To date, the Minnesota RollerGirls have donated over $80,000 to charities, Bilotta-Burke said.

She said she’s personally participating in the Polar Plunge on Saturday at Lake Calhoun to benefit Special Olympics Minnesota.

Considering her University position and tasks that come with her position on the executive board, Bilotta-Burke said she’s forced to make difficult decisions. But she said they’re easier to make with the support of her family and colleagues.

Business and marketing junior Brian Ung, who’s a teaching assistant for Bilotta-Burke’s class, said the University staff member’s time management skills are impressive.

“‘A’ for amazing,” Ung said of Bilotta-Burke.

He said hearing Bilotta-Burke’s roller derby stories enriches his experience as a teaching assistant.

“[They’re] so refreshing and amazing to the point you can’t help but smile or laugh,” Ung said. “It empowers her.”