Tyler Wolff has had a lot to celebrate recently.
The 20-year-old Homegrown from Snellville, Georgia earned his first start of the season for Atlanta United last month in its U.S. Open Cup match against Memphis 901 FC. Within that match, he scored his first-ever goal with the first team and the fastest goal of the season at two minutes and 37 seconds.
This month, Wolff gets to celebrate something other than his accomplishments on the field. May marks Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time where Wolff takes extra pride in his Filipino roots.
The forward’s Asian heritage comes from his mother’s side, and although never having visited the country, stories and traditions carried through by his grandmother have allowed him a link back to the Philippines.
“I’m pretty close with my grandmother,” Wolff said, “and she’s been [back to the Philippines] a few times since coming here. I’ve heard it’s beautiful there. I want to one day go there, visit, see the culture, see the people.
“My grandmother has been here for a while, so I like to say she’s been ‘Americanized,’” he added, “but she’ll cook, and we’ll have some friends over, family gatherings. I know get-togethers was a big part of what she did there when she was younger.”
Since Wolff’s grandmother moved to America, most of his extended family has followed her lead. Having his family around has been his strongest tie to his ethnicity, considering Asian and Pacific Islanders are two of the smallest ethnic groups in Georgia and MLS.
In 2022, Asians accounted for just 4.6% of Georgia's population; Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders were the least populous at 0.1%. That same year, they stood at 0.8% and 0.3% respectively for MLS players, with only American Indian or Alaskan Natives behind them at 0.1%.
Despite often being one of few in his environment, Wolff appreciates the foundation his ethnicity has set in his life and said it is one of the reasons why AAPI Heritage Month is so important.
“I think it’s good to know where you came from,” he said, “and it’s good to know your people and the type of cultures that you’ve grown up seeing and learning. I think it’s good to always have something to fall back on.”
Atlanta United released a new team scarf in May to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, and it is available for purchase at the Atlantic Station Team Store. Wolff said the campaign is another great way the club is uniting the city while recognizing its diversity.
“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “Reaching out to the different ethnicities, different cultures around the city helps bring everyone together. They’re doing a great job with it.”