Alum Spotlight: Andrea (Gonzalez) Campbell
March 7, 2018

Andrea (Gonzalez) Campbell was a four-year letterwinner for the Golden Gophers from 1985-88. Hailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Campbell was a four-year All-Big Ten selection and received AVCA All-Region accolades. During her Gopher career, Campbell finished with school records in career kills (2,140), attacks (4,918), aces (265) and digs (1,188). Her four-year Big Ten kill total of 1,281 was first in the Big Ten over that span. She became just the fourth NCAA Division I player to reach 2,000 kills and held the Big Ten record at the time, for kills in a match (41), which happened against Michigan State in 1987. She now resides in Arizona with her husband, Tucker, and their three children. Time to catch up with one of our Gophers great in this question/answer session. 

Being from Argentina, what led to your decision to attend the University of Minnesota?
I was playing club at the time and I was a member of the national team when my strength coach approached me about going to the University of Minnesota. She had coached volleyball at Princeton University and was friends with the U of M coach, Stephanie Schleuder. At the time, I had signed a letter of intent to go to Italy and play professionally for a season there. However, I had studied English for seven years and my family and I saw that coming to the United States was a much better opportunity long term. The idea to play abroad professionally was appealing, but I was afraid that postponing college was a risk to continuing my education after I ended my volleyball career.

What you've been up to since you've graduated from the University of Minnesota?
I played for the Minnesota Monarchs a couple of seasons until the league folded. I got married to a U of M college wrestler (Tucker Campbell) in 1990, after I graduated. We moved to Portland, Oregon, got jobs and we had our first child in 1994. I worked at a credit card company as a credit manager for 10 years. We now have three kids, ages 24, 21 and my daughter is 16. After about 12 years of rain in Oregon, we decided to sell our home and move to Phoenix. We love it here (except for the three months of scorching hot weather in the summer, when we head north). I'm a knowledge manager at the University of Phoenix and I've been there for 10 years. I went back to school and got my Masters in Education (Adult Education and Training) a couple of years ago. I've been married 27 years.

Are you still involved in the sport of volleyball and if so, how?
After I stopped competing at that level, I stopped playing. I could not play abroad because of my pending residency status. Sometimes I think that it wasn't so much that I loved the game, but I loved what came with the game: the team, friends, travel, mastery (being good at something), the recognition, the butterflies before the games, and most of all, and the competition. When my daughter was young and started to play sports, she wanted to try volleyball, so I signed her up at the YMCA. That is when I became involved in the sport again, as a volunteer coach, and then, when she started playing club, I was her assistant coach. It was a strange coach/mom relationship during volleyball season. She chose to play with the jersey #7 like her mom.

Do you still have that teammate connection after you've graduated?
Facebook has been pretty important in keeping those ties. It is great to see everyone's life evolving through marriages, becoming moms, and being there to support the occasional heartbreak or life change. I recently reconnected with my club friends from Argentina, who I've known since I was 11. It is amazing to feel how, 30 years later, you can still have conversations just like you have never been apart.

Playing at Minnesota, what were some important lessons you took from that experience and how have you been able to use that in life after college?
Well, it is a cliché but the No. 1 lesson was how to be a teammate, or part of a team. How to be happy for the success of others, how to pick up the slack when you need to, and how to let others help you when you need help. I learned how damaging can be to "throw someone under the bus", instead of handling a conflict directly first. I learned that the parents of others will become your substitute parents when you don't have yours around, and how important it is to open your home when people don't have family around.

I also learned that watching your kids play the game is important. It doesn't seem so when they barely wave and they want to go out with their teammates afterwards. But having your parents watch you play is priceless. They know you are there and it matters.

If there's one thing you want people to know about you, what would it be?
If we played volleyball together, you are my sister from another mister.

Any advice you'd like to share with the current Gopher Volleyball team now or even after they are done playing collegiately?
1. Look for opportunities to keep playing at a high level after college, look for teams overseas. If you love the game, keep playing into your 30's. Travel.
2. Give back by volunteering your time and coach for free if you can. It feels good.
3. Keep in touch. Not everyone is your best friend, but you live through important years together. Remembering those old boyfriends during reunions can be hilarious.
4. Thank your parents.
5. If/when you have kids, make them play volleyball. It is one of the greatest games on earth.
6. Wrestlers make great husbands, just sayin' :)

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Time to catch up with one of our Gophers great, Andrea Gonzalez Campbell, in this question/answer session.

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