Jessica Mangrobang’s leadership skills, positive attitude, experience and competitive spirit have brought a young Gonzaga women’s golf team to be one of the best GU has seen in years.
Raised in the San Diego area, the senior Mangrobang has been golfing since she was 5 years old. She got her start from her loving and supportive parents.
“Both my parents would go out on the weekends early in the morning to play golf with each other,” Mangrobang said. “And then one day, they decided to bring me along and they saw that I was a natural at it.”
Soon after, her parents took her to a swing coach to support her natural talent. But the coach turned her away and said she was too young to start playing. At 7 years old, she started playing competitive golf.
GU head coach Brad Rickel was traveling with the team’s assistant coach, when they saw Mangrobang play in high school and arranged a visit to campus for her. When she came to Spokane, she knew GU was the place where she wanted to be.
“The community that Gonzaga provided was very friendly and very welcoming to anyone,” she said.
Her main inspiration to play collegiate golf originates from her parents.
“The amount of sacrifice that they put in to me performing well in this sport made me determined to do well in college,” she said.
Mangrobang said she also chose GU because of its engineering program. She wanted to find a school that supported athletes as well as her aspirations to become an aerospace manufacturer.
At a young age, her dream was to become a pilot. But soon, she realized her poor eyesight would quell that career path. Then, her dream changed.
“For some reason, not being able to fly a plane, went into the thought of, ‘Maybe I can build one,'" Mangrobang said.
She said the support GU offers enables her to perform well in all facets of collegiate life.
Flash forward to her senior year, where she’s leading the women’s golf team to victory.
The Bulldogs enjoyed recent wins at consecutive tournaments. The first came on Sept. 24 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort Collegiate Invitational. The other was at the Pat Lesser Harbottle Invitational in Tacoma, Washington, on Oct. 15.
“Every piece you would want in someone who is a leader, Jess processes just naturally,” Rickel said. “It is not something she works at, she is just naturally a leader.”
As one of two seniors on the team, Mangrobang sets the tone.
“Just being the oldest, a lot of us look up to her,” freshman Cassie Kim said.
Though golf is an individual sport, Mangrobang creates a positive team culture that helps GU achieve success.
“From my experience, just seeing her so competitive and wanting to win and do well, makes me want to do just as well for the team,” Kim said.
Rickel supports that notion, praising Mangrobang’s competitive spirit.
The team also benefits by being close friends away from the course. The Bulldogs set aside time to be silly, which improves morale.
Whenever Mangrobang is not practicing, she is studying and focusing on the future. She also finds time to give back to the Spokane community.
“I would think that if you looked up what it means to be a Zag in my dictionary, it would be the face of Jess,” Rickel said.
During her free time, she loves to go fishing and immerse herself in nature. Both golf and fishing allow her to step back, enjoy living and be mellow.
“I do appreciate having those silent moments and just being with nature and just being able to relax, be in my own thoughts,” she said.
As of Oct. 15, GU is ranked 75th in the nation. With Mangrobang leading the team, the future appears bright.
“Whenever there are moments where the team comes together and we compete and we win, I would say that those moments are very priceless,” she said.