By Jackson Scallen
Class of 2020
SPOKANE, Wash. – After becoming the first golfer in Gonzaga history to compete in the NCAA Championships – last season, as a freshman – Bianca Pagdanganan is rapidly distinguishing herself as a rising star.
The West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year last season, she was selected recently to the Preseason All-WCC team. Pagdanganan, who already has two top-10 finishes this season, captured the 55th annual Philippines Ladies Open while at home during winter break in January, setting a new record for the tournament. She was featured on CNN Philippines.
In an interview at the Stevens Center, Gonzaga’s new modern indoor tennis and golf facility that opened in 2014, Pagdanganan spoke of her experience as a Bulldog golfer, adjusting to life outside of her home country, and academics.
“I didn’t expect much coming into Gonzaga, so making it to regionals and nationals was just a big surprise for me,” she said, noting that the higher level of competition has helped her mature as a golfer and as a person.
“Knowing that I won that Philippines Ladies Open tournament was just crazy. It was something I never expected. But I don’t feel any pressure after winning that tournament,” she said. “Maybe, because I didn’t expect anything.”
She said that the main difference between Spokane and the Philippines is that the tropical climate back home permits her to golf outside year-round. As a result, the Stevens Center has been a fantastic resource. One of her greatest challenges in coming to Gonzaga was learning to be independent.
“You make your own decisions, so if you make the wrong one you have to face your own consequences,” Pagdanganan said. She also expressed gratitude for her teammates who have helped her adjust to American culture and manage her new sense of independence.
“If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t know what to do,” she said. “We have one senior (Ciera Min, from Hawaii) and she’s been a really good example to all of us. I’m just really thankful to have that guidance. It’s kind of like a sisterhood.”
Pagdanganan says her own Catholic background had a big influence on her decision to attend Gonzaga.
“Most of my family members went to a Jesuit school back home, so it helped us decide,” said Pagdanganan, who attended all-girls schools her entire life before Gonzaga and also adjusted to being in a co-ed classroom.
She says Gonzaga’s small class sizes and friendly, approachable professors have helped her adjust to studying in a new culture.
Pagdanganan is majoring in sports management to align with her passion for golf, and hopes to become a professional golfer.