Freshman Arden Lee: Badminton
Badminton has always been in freshman Arden Lee’s blood. “My dad and my mom met through badminton, and my sister started playing before I was born,” he said. “So, I guess I’ve been playing my whole life.”
Lee didn’t start out strong in the sport, but after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he saw more promising results. Badminton is both mentally and physically challenging, but Lee felt motivated after winning matches and seeing gradual improvement. “My coaches push me a lot, and sometimes I feel like, ‘Why do I even do this?’” he said. “But at the end of the day, if you train hard, then you’ll get results, so it’s rewarding. I don’t want all that hard work to go to waste.”
In 2021, Lee won the Badminton Pan American Junior Championships’ boys doubles division. The tournament, one of the largest in the U.S., was a big milestone for him.“That was the one time in badminton recently that I felt like I actually won because I worked so hard to get there, and it felt really good to succeed,” he said.
One of Lee’s most memorable childhood moments is when he broke his racket while playing with three friends. As the shuttlecock was tossed over the net, both Lee and a friend attempted to hit it. With high hopes, Lee took a big swing to return the shuttlecock to the other side, only to witness his racket making direct contact with the back of his friend’s head and falling to the ground in two pieces.
Lee said it was a challenge maintaining a positive attitude toward the sport during his first years few years of playing. He mentioned, however, that changing his mindset to be more optimistic boosted his playing. “Fixing that mindset and changing it to be more critical-thinking and positive helped me focus and become a better player,” he said.
Though Lee is fond of badminton, he has considered trying other sports, such as volleyball. Still, he plans to continue to play badminton competitively through high school and at a lower-commitment level in college. “I want to win Pan American Junior Championships again or play in the World Juniors,” he said.