Gonzaga women’s golf Assistant Coach Victoria Fallgren is known for her stellar game as a Zag and beyond. Most recently, Fallgren has turned heads in her victorious win on the Cascade Course greens at Gold Mountain Golf Club, reclaiming her title as women’s mid-amateur golf champion.
Her continuation of playing golf at the national level aims to not only refine her own game, but to strengthen, expand and motivate GU women’s golf players.
“What I love about golf is that it is you and the golf course,” Fallgren said. “There might be other people playing the same course at the same time, but the real competing is between you and the course.”
Fallgren started golfing when she was only 4 years old. Through high school, she played junior golf and by her junior year she had golfed in regional events and the national level.
Growing up in Orange County, California, a junior golf hotbed, Fallgren played among many talented players whose dedication and love for the sport inspired her.
Her superb athletic performance led to recruitment opportunities to various universities, including GU, where she played on the women’s golf team from 2009-2013.
Fallgren was an integral player in the 2012-2013 season, when GU women’s golf won four of the nine team tournament titles currently held. Within the season, she became the first Zag to win the West Coast Conference. Since, two GU players have followed Fallgren’s in achieving the title.
As her undergraduate years playing for GU women’s golf came to a close, Brad Rickel, GU women’s golf head coach, offered Fallgren a position as his assistant. Rickel was in search of an assistant coach as a part of his efforts to advance and expand the women’s golf program. He thought coaching would be good push for Fallgren.
“She is willing to learn, and she innately understands what I am looking for out of team members, out of recruits and on a day-to-day basis,” Rickel said. “We fit together like a glove.”
Fallgren remained on the team after graduating as a grad-assistant to Rickel. After achieving her master’s degree, she became a full-time assistant coach.
“I kind of pushed her back into it after she had been a coach for a few years just because I thought it would be good for her,” Rickel said. “She likes to compete, it adds to her life, she’s really good at it and I also knew that it would help her be a better coach by continually putting her in competitive situations.”
Playing also helps Fallgren in the recruiting process, giving her an edge when talking to prospective athletes. She is often playing on the same course as junior golf recruits and is able to gage the perfect sense of good golfers and strong scores, Rickel said.
Fallgren said that since college she has kept in touch with other Pacific Northwest mid-amateur golfers. She admires the balance they maintain between completing at a high athletic level with their career and family life.
This past summer, Fallgren participated regained her title as Women’s Mid-Amateaur golf champion for the third time in the past four years. She completed the tournament against defending champion Tina Papatolis with a 54-hole score of 3-over-par 219.
Fallgren and Papatilis have played together several times over the years, occasionally golfing as partners in tournaments. Fallgren said it has been nice playing with Papatilis, for she is a friendly face whom she enjoys catching up with on the greens, yet they are competitive at the same time.
Fallgren was able to practice and prepare for the tournament often, given the timing of COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns.
“Golfing has been a great escape with COVID-19,” Fallgren said. “I can go out and walk in the park essentially.”
Additional time to focus on her game and her performance of the greens allowed her to compete with high confidence in her game.
Fallgren said that complementing her coaching position with competing has kept her in a competitive mindset and allowed her to grasp the mindset GU players mid-competition.
“I think the team likes that she competes,” Rickel said. “They definitely root for her and are always happy to see that she is out competing.”
Jessica Mangrobang, a GU student golfing her fifth year with Fallgren, said her continuous golf accomplishments easily allows for GU Women’s Golf to look up to her as assistant coach.
“She’s able to pick up on each of our player’s little golf habits and act accordingly, which shows her experience of being a competitive player,” Mangrobang said in an email. “She works hard at keeping her game, and it motivates the rest of the team to do the same.”
Mangrobang said after her fifth year as one of Fallgren’s players they have become good friends and have caught on to each other’s humor and goofy spirits.
“We joke around a lot, but at the end of the day I really do look up to her as someone who is not only great at golf, but who also has the experience that I can learn from,” Mangrobang said. “As a coach, she knows how to best deal with me during a tournament, which mentally as a player makes it easier to relax and score.”
Some of her favorite memories golfing with Fallgren were times of playing friendly golf matches with her.
“It’s embarrassing to say, but I lost 4 down with 3 to go twice,” Mangrobang said. “It motivates me to do better, but also it comes to show how talented Victoria is in golf.”
During their tournaments many jokes were cracked on the course.
Rickel said that there were so many traits in Fallgren that are admirable, not only as an assistant coach, but as an individual.
The two have established a strong connection as a coaching team since Rickel initially recruited her to play for GU.
“Every year she gets better and better at her job and it’s just been so fun to watch her grow up during the past 12 years to a full-blown adult,” Rickel said.
In her years playing for GU, she said one of her greatest moments was winning the WCC Championship her junior year. After birdying the last playoff hole to win the conference, teammates embraced her with an enormous group hug. Her family was also there to experience her achievement in support.
“She braced Gonzaga the day she got here and is just a Zag through and through,” Rickel said. “She is all you would embody into a Gonzaga person.”