International students make their mark on SF State's women's volleyball team

Cindy Waters

Charlotte Campion, originally from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France, is a sophomore at SF State and plays outside hitter for the women's volleyball team. Photo by Cindy Waters.

Diversity is something that is not only accepted but also appreciated at SF State, and the University’s volleyball team is no exception.

This season features two new additions to the team, both of whom traveled roughly 6,000 miles from two different continents to get where they are today.

Sophomores Charlotte Campion, from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France, and Mariana Lutterbach, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are both enjoying their first season on the team.

Campion and her family moved to Mill Valley, Calif., over the summer, but they have spent time on American soil before. When she was younger her family lived in Florida for a few years before moving back to France.

Campion and her family moved because her father wanted to pursue a job with a start-up online magazine. Campion is following in her father’s footsteps as a journalism major, although it is hard for her right now because she is still learning the language.

“My English, you know, it’s not perfect still,” she said. “In France you study English, but it’s not like real studying, so I kind of lost it. I’m trying to get back into it again. I’m getting better and better every day.”

Learning the language quickly is nothing new to her. When she originally moved to Florida she didn’t speak any English.

Campion’s mother, Florent, was a professional volleyball player in France and encouraged her daughter to try the sport when Campion was young. Despite having a former pro at home Campion doesn’t like to be coached from the sidelines.

“She tries not to (give advice) because I don’t like that. When she comes to games she won’t say anything but she judges, I know she does,” she said with a laugh.

Campion might have started playing because her mom suggested it, but it’s clear now that she plays for herself.

“This team, I think, is like the greatest team I’ve ever been in because everyone gets along so well and is so motivated,” she said. “Each ball, even in practice, they’ll go for it.”

Even after a few short weeks she’s already contributing in games off the bench, appearing in 9 of the 12 games so far.

“We depend on our bench to come in and give us a spark and she definitely gave us a spark today with her serving,” said Assistant Coach Eric Ballelos after the Sept. 15 game against Cal Poly Pomona.

Campion has compiled a .933 serving percentage this season.

Similar to her teammate, Lutterbach moved to the U.S. with her family when she was 10, and spent six years in New Jersey. Their move was also because of her father’s job; he’s a pediatric cardiologist who is working on a thesis in Denver.

“I’ve almost lived half my life here and half in Brazil,” Lutterbach said. She said her grandparents don’t like to fly, so she and her family return to Brazil for a visit every summer.

Before she moved to the U.S., Lutterbach had never played volleyball, but she loved to watch the sport during the Olympics. As soon as they moved, her mom found a summer volleyball camp at the local high school and enrolled her daughter.

“It was a great way to meet people,” Lutterbach said. “I was just getting started, getting the basics down, and it was great. The coach was amazing and I learned a lot from him.”

Like Campion, Lutterbach didn’t know any English before she moved.

“I could barely say my name,” she said, but it made the familial bond, between herself and her two older brothers, stronger. “I remember watching ‘Friends’ with subtitles, trying to pick up the language with my family.”

Once she learned to play in the summer camp she never stopped playing volleyball, continuing through middle school and joining a club team once she reached high school. She played on the University’s club team last year but is already in love with her new team.

“I think dynamic is really important,” Lutterbach said. “We do have a lot of chemistry, which is great. It hasn’t always been easy. I’m not really that outgoing, but the girls are really great.”

The team aspect is important to her, she said, but she also just loves everything about the sport.

“It’s very intense, and I love it because it’s very competitive,” Lutterbach said.

The respect for those two elements of the sport will serve her well on the team.

“She has that kind of mentality where she’s going to be aggressive no matter what‚” Ballelos said. “We need players like that. When she catches up to speed and gets on the court she could be a huge contributor for us.”

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