AOTM: Ambrose So

The senior captain represented the U.S. in the Pan American Badminton Championships.



Senior Ambrose So was ranked the sixth top junior badminton player in the U.S.

Cindy Liu, Asst. News Editor

Seven years after sitting on the sidelines watching his cousins play badminton, Diamond Bar High School senior captain Ambrose So has represented the U.S. in the prestigious Pan American Badminton Junior Championships as one of the top young badminton players in the country.

At 15 years old—a year younger than the other competitors in his age category—So defied all expectations when he was selected to represent the U.S. in the championships, where he placed third in mixed doubles. The competition, held in Guatemala, attracted hundreds of the best badminton players across the Americas.

“It was always my dream to represent our country,” So said. “When I made it, I was really surprised [since] I was the underdog. I was shocked, everyone was shocked and I couldn’t believe it.”

Although So earned another spot on Team U.S.A. last  year for the Pan American championships  held in Tijuana, he lost in the  first round to Canada.

So’s skill on the court has been recognized as among the best in the country; in 2016, he was ranked as the sixth top junior badminton player in the nation. In addition to traveling around the world to compete for badminton, he holds titles as a three-time consecutive league individual champion and a two-time consecutive CIF individual doubles champion.

“I don’t usually bring it up that much; I like to stay humble,” So said. “In the beginning, I didn’t play competitively; I just played for fun.”

So’s passion for badminton started at age 10 when he saw his cousins playing and wanted to be like them. He later brought up his interest up with his parents and enrolled at a local training center, the Orange County Badminton Club.

“I always wanted to play with my cousin [and] partner with him,” So said. “I have two cousins [who] both play, and my brother also plays. I guess it’s a family thing—we’re all in the sport.”

In his freshman year, So decided to attend the badminton tryouts in hopes of securing a spot on the team. There, coach Kemp Wells placed him on the varsity team, where he has played for the last four years.

“I’ve always heard that the badminton team was really strong, and they were CIF champions for so many years in a row,” So said. “I wanted to contribute to [that] so I tried out.”

As part of the DBHS team, So has been one of the top players who have helped the team continue its record as seven-time consecutive CIF champions.

“He’s very versatile,” Wells said. “He can play all three events [singles, doubles and mixed doubles] equally well; he’s very talented.”

While juggling his school work and activities, So usually practices two times a week—each session lasting two to three hours—on top of his usual workout routines at the gym. Whenever So feels the strain of balancing everything and is discouraged with badminton, he looks to his competitive side for motivation.

“I don’t like to lose,” So said. “That motivates me a lot… no one likes to lose; everyone of course wants to win, but sometimes we have our bad days and we just have to accept the loss.”

Although So doesn’t currently have plans to pursue badminton professionally, he plans to  continue his badminton career after graduating from DBHS.

“[Badminton] has made my mentality a lot stronger,” So said. “[I learned] not to give up that easily.”