Ian Gilligan

Long Beach State |


When Ian was 15, his life was forever changed when a pain in his shoulder and subsequent skin irritation was diagnosed as an incredibly rare form of lymphoma, making Ian one of only 20 kids worldwide with this type of lymphoma.

A sophomore at Galena High School in Reno, Nevada at the time, Ian spent seven months undergoing chemotherapy. Joined by his parents, he would spend one week at the hospital for treatment, followed by two weeks off, only to return to the hospital to repeat the process. In all, he spent more than 50 days at Renown Children’s Hospital.

“Beyond the fear of possibly never being able to golf again, one of the hardest parts was being alone with my thoughts,” explained Ian. “My only path toward healing was to listen to the doctor, have a positive attitude, and take it day by day. A silver lining of this experience that I have been able to apply toward golf is to not get too high or low and just concentrate on the task at hand. If I can beat cancer, I can certainly overcome a sliced drive or a three-putt.” Ian was named Big West Freshman of the Year and to the All-Big West First Team in 202122 with three Top 10 finishes and five Top 25 showings. His best finish was second place at The Big West Championships. This fall, the sophomore has played even better, capturing consecutive individual titles at the Nick Watney Invitational in Kingsburg and the Mackenzie Invitational in Sonoma. He followed those performances with a strong finish at the inaugural Cal Poly Invitational, leading Long Beach State to a top 10 finish. He was recognized as the Big West Golfer of the Month for September and October and is currently the top ranked Division 1 golfer in the country.

“CalHOPE is honored to recognize student athletes throughout the state who, despite setbacks, have overcome life’s challenges to continue to perform their best as both scholars and athletes. CalHOPE’s purpose is to build community resiliency and help people recover through free outreach, crisis counseling, and support services. We hope that by sharing these stories that student-athletes have experienced, we will all be inspired.”
Dr. Jim Kooler, Special Consultant for DHCS