WACONIA, Minn. – This small Minnesota city just west of the Twin Cities has a big stake in Team USA's Women's Hockey program. All eyes are on former University of Minnesota Gopher and Team USA defenseman Annie Schleper.
Schleper's uncle is Waconia's long-time veterinarian Dr. Jeff Schnobrich. On game days, Schnobrich's entire staff leaves the scrubs at home and wears Team USA Hockey T-shirts with Schleper's name and number 15 on the back.
"The shirts were actually my sister's idea," explained Schnobrich, "and obviously, to get to Sochi, it cost a whole lot of money and the US Olympic Committee told them you need to do fundraisers because there's really no subsidy for families."
The effort to raise $50,000 to send Annie's family to Sochi sold 700 T-shirts, most in her home town of Saint Cloud through her old high school, Cathedral.
"I think our order was for 37 of them," said Schnobrich. "So, there were a whole lot of people that helped my family get to Sochi. So that they could see Annie play."
The staff joined in the fun with handmade posters, matching red, white and blue bracelets and the occasional "Go Team USA!" cheers.
They were reward, in a sense, by the big game between Team USA and Team Canada on Wednesday, when Annie figured in all of Team USA's goals. And when Annie takes the ice again in Sochi, with her family looking on, her fans in Waconia will be wearing her T-shirts.