Mom: Susan Zapolski
Athlete: Ryan Zapolski
Sport: Men’s Hockey
There will be a lot of names on the U.S. men's hockey team that most people won't recognize because NHL players aren't participating in this year's Olympics; however, you should know starting goaltender Ryan Zapolski.
He's logged thousand of miles throughout his career to get him to the Olympics. And his mom, Susan, has been supporting him every step of the way.
"It’s going to be very emotional, I tear up now thinking about it," Susan said. "Seeing my son represent the United States, it’s going to be very emotional.”
Ryan, along with his two brothers and sister, grew up in the snowy northwest corner of Pennsylvania – in the blue collar city of Erie, rooting for the Penguins.
Hockey is everything to the Zapolski’s and Susan was the traffic cop, the “hockey mom” who drove everyone to the rink for practice and packed up the car for games and tournaments.
"Most of our vacations were going to Cleveland, Buffalo, Canada different things like that because they were playing hockey,” she explained. "There were things we did without, but it was worth it in the end."
The world will be watching the men's hockey team compete on the biggest stage, living each shot and save with Ryan in goal. Emotions will be all over the place and while Susan might appear calm on the outside, she's secretly a nervous-wreck.
"Parents always say 'how do you stay so calm when your son is a goalie,' I do, but I keep it all inside so I’m really not calm. I’m ready to scream.”
The entire Zapolski family is heading to PyeongChang to cheer on Ryan and Team USA. While Susan admits she's afraid of flying, she is making an exception to see her son compete in the Olympics.
The U.S. Men's hockey team begins Olympic pool play against Slovenia on Wednesday, Feb. 14.