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Chet (Laniewski) Laney  

All Around ∙ Ambridge

It’s been said that officials are at their best when you don’t notice they are there. But Chet (Laniewski) Laney cast a huge shadow as an official, a coach and an athlete that was impossible to overlook.

In all, Chet officiated in six major bowl games - the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Gator Bowl and Liberty Bowl. But the highlight of his nearly 40-year resume was his participation on the officiating crew of one of the greatest games in college football history, the 1971 battle between Nebraska and Oklahoma - a.k.a “The Game of the Century”. In that game, Nebraska, featuring future Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rogers, defeated Oklahoma, 35-31. In the 1971 season, Chet officiated games involving eight of top-10 ranked teams in the nation (Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Texas, Southern California). He also officiated game in front of 105,000 fans between Michigan and Colorado. Chet also officiated three NCAA Division II National College Championships.

Off the field, Chet was a long-time educator and coach who taught physical education at Topeka High School from 1954 to 1969 and again from 1981 to 1988. In 1958, he spurred on the Topeka Unified School District 501 school board to fund a natatorium at Topeka High School, which at the time was the best pool in the state. After 20 years as a swim coach, winning two state titles, Chet also left his mark at Topeka High School. So respected was he as a coach that in 2005, the swimming pool located underneath the gym at Topeka High was converted and renamed Laney Gym. Chet also coached state championships teams in golf and also spent time coaching football, basketball and track.

A graduate of Ambridge High School, Chet was a three sport athlete for the Bridgers, but it was football that provided him an avenue to college. Following his senior season, Chet had scholarship offers from Pitt, Penn State, Michigan, Purdue, North Carolina, and Kentucky. After serving in World War II, Chet came home and accepted an opportunity at the University of Kansas.

Chet is a member of the Kansas College Hall of Fame as well as the Topeka Officials Association Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Geraldine, have three children, David, Randy and Tom.