ADA – Please forgive Sarah Suter if she is overly excited about Team USA’s quest for a men’s hockey gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Suter, East Central University’s Director of Student Organizations and Greek Life, rose out of bed early Thursday before 6 a.m., watched the first two periods of the Americans’ 7-1 opening-game win over Slovakia on television, got in her car between the second and third periods, arrived at ECU about 7:20 a.m. and watched the remainder of the contest from her computer as she put on make-up at her desk in preparation for another day of work.
Such is the life of an avid hockey fan…one who has the ultimate interest in Team USA’s pursuit of a gold.
Sarah Suter is the first cousin of Ryan Suter, an alternate team captain and a defenseman for Team USA. The story doesn’t end there. Ryan, who currently plays in the National Hockey League for the Minnesota Wild, is the son of Bob Suter, who was a vital cog in the Americans’ famed ‘Miracle on Ice’ run to a gold medal during the 1980 Winter Olympics.
“I always get pumped up about the Olympics, but to have a family member in it is really exciting. It’s an honor…one of the highest. I know that he (Ryan) is proud to play and represent the country in the Olympics,” said Sarah.
Sarah’s love of hockey is obvious and could not be avoided, even if she wanted.
“Our family is big into hockey. I have several cousins who have played and my 14-year-old brother (Branden) plays and has set some records in his league,” Sarah said.
Ryan and Bob aren’t the only famous hockey participants in the family. Another one of Sarah’s uncles, Gary Suter, played in the NHL from 1985-2002 with the Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks. Gary was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011.
Growing up as a youth, Sarah remembers her uncle Bob, bringing his 1980 gold medal to school for her show-and-tell time.
She is also proud that Ryan, who is Gillette’s U.S. Hockey ambassador for the Olympics, and Bob recently appeared in a 3 ½ -minute video called “Keep Your Head Up” for Gillette’s “Raising an Olympian” series, which can be viewed on YouTube.
Ryan is pursuing his second Olympic medal. He was part of the 2010 Team USA Olympic squad, which settled for a silver medal after falling to Team Canada, 4-3, in overtime in Vancouver.
Sarah believes that Ryan has humbly embraced his position as alternate captain for the USA team.
“He takes initiative. He’s a real leader and professional. He’s kind of quiet and shy. He would rather talk about the team over himself,” said Sarah. “He and my uncle don’t display their medals. They keep them tucked away in a drawer.”
Ryan, who played collegiately at the University of Wisconsin, was the seventh overall pick in the 2003 NHL draft by the Nashville Predators. He spent the 2004-05 season with the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals.
He has been productive in a solid 2013-14 season with the NHL’s Wild. On Jan. 4, despite being a defenseman, he recorded his first career hat trick (three goals) in a 5-3 Minnesota victory over the Washington Capitals.