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Catch up on the latest in UWL sports

Posted 1:34 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Kings of the north 

Spieker finds success with title-winning Montreal Alouettes 

Champion. That’s what Cole Spieker can call himself.  

The 2020 graduate as a general studies major was a member of the 2023 Canadian Football League (CFL) Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes. 

The Grey Cup game, first presented in1909, is Canada’s largest annual sports event. The Alouettes earned a 28-24 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Nov. 19 in Hamilton, Ontario. Playing wide receiver, Spieker caught three passes for 62 yards including a 23-yard touchdown to cut Winnipeg’s lead to 17-14 in the third quarter. Montreal outscored Winnipeg 14-7 in the fourth quarter to earn its eighth Grey Cup in team history. 

“I feel extremely blessed, and it means a lot to be a part of a group that was able to come together and accomplish what we did,” Spieker says. “Especially to be able to have my parents there and see me win my first championship as a football player. This one is for all the people that believed in me and supported me along my journey.”

Spieker celebrates with the Grey Cup after the Alouettes' 28-24 championship victory.

After graduating from UWL, Spieker played in the 2021 The Spring League (TSL), a shortened season of six games played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. He continued to pursue his dream of playing professionally by training and working at UPS. 

After attending several combines/showcases around the country, Spieker caught the eye of a Montreal scout at a showcase in Indianapolis. He was invited to the team’s open tryouts in Dallas and was soon signed to a contract. Spieker played in two games for the Alouettes in 2022, catching six passes and one touchdown. 

Spieker appeared in 12 contests in 2023, recording 33 receptions and one touchdown. Montreal picked up his 2024 option after this year’s Grey Cup. 

Spieker says he has learned one major key to success in the professional ranks is being able to come together as one. 

“Through supporting each other through the highs and lows,” he says. “Having genuine joy for others’ success as much as your own, and being committed to the goals of the team. I believe this is true outside of sports well.” 

Spieker earned a number of accolades during his time at UWL. He was the 2019 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Offensive Player of the Year and a member of the All-WIAC First Team in 2018 and 2019. He finished his career with the second-most receiving years in school history. 

“One of the most important skills UWL helped me develop was discipline, which has helped me during each step of my journey so far,” says Spieker. “UWL helped show me the value in working hard and dreaming big.” 


Women’s Tennis3rd- - -         
Soccer  1stNCAA III Quarterfinals
Volleyball8th- - -
Women’s Cross Country1st10th
Men’s Cross Country1st2nd
Football1stNCAA III Quarterfinals
Women’s Golf   2nd- - -

All-WIAC First Team Honors: 24
All-WIAC Second Team Honors: 19
All-WIAC Honorable Mention Honors: 9
WIAC Athletes of the Week: 20
WIAC Scholar-Athlete: 2
WIAC Coaches/Coaching Staff of the Year: 3
Region Coaching Staff of the Year: 2
WIAC Newcomer of the Year: 2

WIAC Players of the Year: 6
National Athletes of the Year: 1
Regional Athletes of the Year: 2
All-America Honors: 9
All-Region Honors: 24
National Scholar Player of the Year: 1
National Scholar All-America Team: 2
Regional Scholar Team: 3

Katie Steingraeber and Luke Crowley have found a new outlet for their competitive spirit: a traditional Scottish event known as the Highland Games.

Competitive couple

Alumni keep competitive flame burning through traditional Scottish games 

A pair of UW-La Crosse track and field alumni have continued to compete after successful athletic careers with the Eagles. 

Katie Steingraeber, a 2008 graduate in biology, and her husband, Luke Crowley (attended UWL from 2005-09), have been competing in the Highland Games since 2007.

The Highland Games is a Scottish heavy athletic competition that includes up to nine events. The events date back to the 11th century and include two stone throws, two Scottish hammers, weight over bar, sheaf toss and caber toss.

Crowley participated in one of the first Highland Games run by the La Crosse Irishfest, an annual event at the La Crosse Oktoberfest Grounds now run by Steingraeber. “Luke fell in love with it,” says Steingraeber. Crowley competed in the shot put and discus throw at UWL and found the Highland Games was beneficial cross training. 

He was a member of three National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Championship teams. Crowley placed eighth in the discus throw at the 2009 outdoor national championship to earn All-America honors.

“After I finished my eligibility, I decided to give it a try,” says Steingraeber. “I think the transition away from competitive and collegiate athletics would have been incredibly difficult if we had not found the Highland Games.”

She was a member of five winning relays at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Championships while attending UWL. The Eagles won the indoor 4x400-meter relay in 2006 and the 4x200 in 2007 and 2008. Steingraeber was on the first-place 4x400-meter relay at the 2005 WIAC Outdoor Championships as well as the winning 4x100-meter relay in 2008.

Both are competing professionally in the Highland Games. Crowley is the reigning Wisconsin Highland Games champion and a five-time winner overall. Steingraeber won the inaugural lightweight women’s world championship in 2017 and placed fourth in the Pro Women’s World Championship in 2023. She was a previous world record holder in the sheaf toss. 

Crowley says consistency has been the key to his success. 

“Not breaking my routine throwing and lifting over the last decade-plus,” he says. 

Steingraeber credits her success to her husband. 

“As a former sprinter, my throwing background was minimal at best,” she says. “Luke has over 20 years of throwing and coaching experience that I get to reap the benefits of having.”

Steingraeber was a member of five winning relay teams at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships while attending UWL.


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