GARRET MEADE PHOTO
Gus Acero, who plays for Intimate Secrets in the North Side-Out Beach Volleyball League, recently acquired American citizenship.
He was beaming from ear to ear.
It was 1:15 on Saturday afternoon when Gus Acero sat on the sidelines at Breakwater Beach in Mattituck during the North Side-Out Beach Volleyball League Tournament and talked about his “dream come true.”
In the winter of 2000, Acero, 28, came to America from Colombia with his parents, Gustavo and Mireya, and brothers Edgar and Diego. On Aug. 16 at the Central Islip Courthouse, Gus Acero became an American citizen.
“This is like a dream,” he said smiling as he waited for his Intimate Secrets team to play its next match. “I’ve been here for 11 years. When it finally happened, I couldn’t believe it.”
Acero said it wasn’t easy moving from Colombia to Greenport.
“The first year was hard,” he recalled. “I liked Colombia. I left a lot of friends there. I was the new kid on the block at Greenport High School my senior year. No one in my grade spoke Spanish.”
Acero has been playing beach volleyball for six years.
“When I first came here, playing beach volleyball was one of my first experiences with Americans,” he said. “I loved it. I like the fact the league is friendly. I can communicate with my whole team. All the teams are nice. It is a really nice experience.”
Acero applied for his citizenship in January. After sending in all the paperwork, Acero received a booklet with 100 questions in April. He took his citizenship test in July in Garden City.
“You had to get six out of 10 questions right,” he said. “I was very excited when the interviewer asked me if I want my letter for the oath mailed to me or if I wanted to wait, and he would give it to me. I said, ‘I’ll wait.’ This meant a lot to me. It was a nice feeling. I’m very happy.”
Then it was time for Acero and his teammates to go back on the court. In his blue sleeveless shirt and black shorts, Acero, a staffer and graphic artist for The Suffolk Times and The North Shore Sun, hit an over-the-shoulder return. He dove in the sand to keep a point alive. As he spit sand out of his mouth, a broad smile filled his face. Gus Acero was a happy man.
“Becoming a citizen is a nice accomplishment,” he said. “I love it. This is probably the best week I’ve had since I’ve been here.”