For Joei Fiegler, the college football experience has been a journey, one with many stops spread throughout the country.
After the quarterback’s time at Alcoa ended with the first of the school’s seven consecutive state championships in 2005, Fiegler signed with the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. After a short stint there, the former Tornado southpaw headed to Georgia Military College. He had two stellar seasons in Georgia and committed to Alabama-Birmingham but would ultimately end up 1,000 miles from home at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D.
While at Georgia Military, Fiegler played quarterback but also gained notoriety for a skill he seldom used while at Alcoa — the ability to punt the ball with power. He was named a junior college all-American and led the nation in punting his freshman year.
“I believe Jesus Christ works in me in special ways so that I can do things for His kingdom,” Fiegler said, “and to be able to get that kind of honor is Jesus Christ doing work in my life, allowing me to be given such a prestigious honor as being named an All-American was special.”
After an excellent career at Georgia Military, Fiegler received looks from a couple Division I schools and chose UAB because he would have the chance to continue playing quarterback as well as punt. Things did not work out for Fiegler with the Blazers, but he landed on his feet and journeyed north to join the Northern State Wolves.
“I’ve definitely learned perseverance. No matter how tough it gets, you have to keep striving, keep digging, and you can’t ever give up, no matter what,” Fiegler said.
Throughout his career, lessons he learned early on at Alcoa have stayed with him, he said.
“Going through the middle school, being around coach (Tim) Russell and learning that character is who you are when no else is looking” have sustained him, Fiegler said. “You need to know who you want to be as a person. Those have always stuck with me.”
It’s an approach Alcoa Middle coach Tim Russell feels is most important.
“That’s something we always focus on,” he said, “not just being champions on the field, but champions in life, and I’m really glad that’s something he remembered.”
Fiegler led Alcoa to two state championships (2004, 2005) and takes great pride in being part of such a successful program.
“To be able to win two championships you have to be blessed and have a unique group of guys who want to work for it,” Fiegler said. “That’s what we did. We didn’t have success because we were just that good, but we had success because we worked hard for it.”
Living in Aberdeen is quite different from East Tennessee, Fiegler said.
“I laugh all the time when back home people are like, ‘It got cold today.’ I say you don’t know what cold is until you go to Aberdeen, South Dakota,” he said. “It gets nasty up here in the winter. Some days the temperature won’t even get above zero. And in this part of the state, it’s completely flat. We don’t have the hills and mountains like back home.”
Along with work at quarterback, Fiegler punted 30 times for a 37.3-yard average for the Wolves this past season. He completed 66 of his 142 passes for 888 yards and five touchdowns.
With one semester and some summer classes left, Fiegler’s time in South Dakota is almost done, and he is on pace to graduate with a degree in Speech Communications and Personal Relations. He plans on using that degree to go into broadcasting or game analysis.
“I think that’s a great field for him. He speaks well and loves sports,” Tim Russell said. “He is so knowledgeable about the game of football. I think that is definitely something he can succeed at.”
The journey in football may not end in June for Fiegler. He will attend a showcase in Texas where his powerful leg will be on display for a myriad of professional leagues, including the NFL and Canadian Football League.