Utah State Volleyball Duo Forge Bond That Transcends Borders

Mar 4, 2022, 3:50 PM | Updated: 3:50 pm

Utah State Aggies - Dee Glen Smith Spectrum...

Utah State fans cheer on the Aggie men's basketball team in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. (Courtesy of Deseret News)

(Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The bond forged in a locker room is unlike any other workplace, but for Utah State volleyball players Kristy Frank and Inka Mehtola, that friendship literally crosses borders.

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia had been simmering for years. For Frank, born in Kyiv, Ukraine, it was just another part of life. “People sort of got used to it. I never really thought the world could be that crazy.”

Frank, a senior outside hitter for the Aggies, led the team with 3.06 kills per set in 2021.

While sitting in her dorm room on a Wednesday night, Frank began scrolling instagram only to find posts from friends in Ukraine of a Kyiv under siege. “They posted videos of my city. It was these explosions and bombs. That’s the moment I realized it’s actually happening.”

After speaking with her father who confirmed hearing explosions, Frank broke down.

“I just started crying. I got so worried because it’s like your family in the middle of this.” Even her traditionally stoic father shed some tears, increasing Frank’s sense of unease.


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After resolving as a family to remain in Kyiv, Frank shares a story that changed their minds.

“The next morning, my mom was in the kitchen and saw an airplane fly by our house and drop a bomb by my friends house.” Frank continued, “She could see everything and said it was terrifying. At that moment, they just packed all their stuff and, without a plan, just went outside, hoping to get somewhere.”

After bussing to a city near Romania, Frank’s family needed help.

In stepped the family of USU teammate Inka Mehtola of Finland.

“I had no idea what was going on or where they would be going until Inka told me her parents were trying to arrange a meet and help them out.”

In these moments are when the true value of sports shows itself. Transcending war across the world, a family displaced by war is able to find safety because of a bond formed nearly 6,000 miles away.

“When they found out that Inka’s parents were willing to come pick them up and give them a place to stay, they were just amazed and incredibly grateful. I’m lucky to find a friend like that, like a soulmate,” Frank said of her friendship with Mehtola.

Though knowing her family is safe is just one of the many concerns Frank’s has as the war in Ukraine progresses.

“It’s a big relief to have my family out of Ukraine right now. I have so many friends and people that I know still in the middle of that. It’s tough to see and you can’t even help. Hopefully the situation will get better.”

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Utah State Volleyball Duo Forge Bond That Transcends Borders