Judy Sowinski, 71, of South Philadelphia, a roller derby coach who won the title of "Queen of Mean" as a player, died of lung cancer Wednesday, July 27, at Vitas Hospice at Methodist Hospital.

A native of Chicago, Ms. Sowinski skated with the Philadelphia Warriors, the New York Bombers, and other clubs from 1959 through the early 1980s.

In 1972, she appeared as one of the skaters in the movie Kansas City Bomber, which starred Raquel Welch.

Ms. Sowinski's career bnoegan when an aunt took her to a match at the Chicago Coliseum in 1959. There, she heard about a tryout and was soon skating for the San Francisco Bay Bombers.

She started out making $100 a week, plus $25 for food, she told The Inquirer in 2008. In her heyday, that weekly pay rose to as much as $1,000, plus 1 percent of the gate for matches against such rivals "Pretty" Judy Arnold.

One roller derby website described Ms. Sowinski as "Arnold's sneering opponent." She told The Inquirer that "the more obnoxious I could be, the more money I could put in my pocket."

Though roller derby had been around since 1935, it became popular in the 1960s when a California promoter created the roller games circuit. During televised games, opposing teams and skaters feuded. Story lines became part of the game, and referees were urged to look the other way when fights broke out.

Though some likened roller derby to pro wrestling, Ms. Sowinski told The Inquirer that she had taken it seriously, and she quit when she thought it had gotten too theatrical.

After leaving roller derby, she was a lab courier at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for almost 20 years.

In 2003, she became involved in a roller derby revival as coach of the Penn Jersey She Devils, an amateur team in Mount Laurel. She also coached a men's team, the Hooligans, with former roller derby skater Arnold "Skip" Schoen.

"At first she wasn't even paid. She just did it for the love of the game," said her partner of 30 years, Angela Marano.

The Penn Jersey players, who have daytime jobs, pay dues to help with rink rent and buy their own skates and safety equipment.

Injuries are frequent, said Holly Prescott, who played with the club for five years. The University of Pennsylvania graduate skated under a pseudonym, Goody Two Skates, with teammates nicknamed Lucky Luciano, Classy Chassis, Shampain, Deuces Wild, Roller Rican, and Cherry Bomber.

As a coach, Ms. Sowinski pushed players to give their all and didn't let them give up, Prescott said. "She practiced tough love. She didn't want to hear excuses."

Though Ms. Sowinski's knees were fragile from years of falls, when she skated in practices "she blew us away and could still hit hard," Prescott said. "She told us we kept her young."

Ms. Sowinski taught the women endurance, jamming, blocking, and how to fall on the level hardwood floors. When she played, she told The Inquirer, "we skated on banked tracks, and there was give when you fell. We had Hollywood stuntmen teach us how to fall."

In 2010, the roller derby teams bought a used banked track and had it installed at a warehouse in North Philadelphia.

Ms. Sowinski, who was inducted into the Roller Derby Hall of Fame in 2004, attended annual reunions of roller derby players in Nevada.

"A lot of them are gone now," she told The Inquirer. "But I had a good time in my life. I had the opportunity to travel all over the world. I tell the girls, 'If that's what you want to do, do it.' "

Ms. Sowinski's other passion was fishing at the Jersey Shore, Marano said.

In addition to her partner, Ms. Sowinski is survived by sisters Carole and Sandy and nieces and nephews.

A Funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, at St. Rita of Cascia Church, Broad and Ellsworth Streets, where friends may call after 8.

Memorial donations may be made to Vitas at Methodist, 1300 Wolf St., Philadelphia 19148.