SportsQuest for the Cup


Ukrainian family enjoys rooting on Lightning in playoffs

Ukrainian family enjoys rooting on Lightning in playoffs
Posted at 5:25 PM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 05:41:56-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Oksana Frolova said being so close to the war in Ukraine was horrible for her family.

“We heard airplanes over our house. Everything was breaking. It was awful,” she said.

Years earlier when she was a student, Frolova connected with Andrew Kuligowski because of a paper he wrote on computer programing.

They became friends, and he even visited Frolova and her family in Ukraine.

When the war started, the widower who lives in Dunedin, wanted to help.

So he arranged for Frolova and her son Seva to come to America.

“They met me in Barcelona," Kuligowski said. "We flew to Cancun and then from Cancun, we flew to Tijuana. Then from Tijuana, we were able to cross the border legally into San Diego."

Once they made it to the Tampa Bay area, Kuligowski, a Lightning season ticket holder since the beginning, wanted to make sure they went to a game.

Frolova and her son became instant Bolts fans. The pair met Thunderbug and watched warm-ups from the glass.

“I can’t even express my feelings my words because thankfully because of Andrew we are here,” Frolova said.

Seva had a couple of signs written in Russian.

“One of them was made by a friend and it just said, ‘from Ukraine, first Bolts game," Kuligowski said. "And, the other was ‘from Kharkiv, Ukraine to Dunedin, Florida. Go Bolts.' It’s just exciting. Forget the game for a minute. Just having them over here finally is exciting. I wish dad could have come but he’s still over there."

Kuligowski passed on his Lighting love to the family when he first visited them in Ukraine.

While Seva doesn’t speak English yet, he does know at least one phrase: “Let’s go Bolts!"