Greg Kaasmann keeps this New Jersey wave pool totes Jersey

While sessioning the wave tank at the American Dream Mall in New Jersey I kept noticing a buff mustachioed dude working the environs of the wave pool. Adjusting a banner, tossing beverages to guests and organizing the board rack at minus 5 minutes to each hour. Surfing here is surreal enough. But to see a real-life Brawny paper towel guy ducking around keeping things running under the watchful gaze of an inflatable Shrek, just upped the ante in how trippy this place is. Greg Kaasmann is a New Jersey firefighter who doubles as a wave operator at SkudinSurf. He’s an affable guy who, sensing my unfamiliarity with New Jersey, jokingly introduced himself with, “Hi, my name is Greg Kaasmann and I”m not in the mob.”

What do you do here at SkudinSurfAD
So I mainly do water instruction, but I am also a wave operator as well.

And how does work, I mean what’s involved in instruction?
So instruction is for everyone from the raw beginner that comes to the pool that wants to learn – we take them on the inside and have them ride the whitewater – to people on the back wall for the intermediate and advanced sessions. We make sure that they understand the way the wave breaks and help them to have the best time they can at the wave pool.

And how about wave operation? How does that work?
So wave operation is, well, we’re sitting at the machine and we’re sending a select number of waves depending on our group at that time is, and what the skill level is.

You wear a few hats. You’re also a part time DJ here as well?
Yes. As a DJ you’re there to keep the stoke high and send good waves and send good music.

So as a DJ, how do you know if you’re doing a good job? Can you ever tell if you’re, like, blowin it?
When you’re blowing it? Oh, absolutely. So, you know, I’m in my mid 30s, so some of the music that I think is cool, uh, well like we’ll have a young group of kids and I’ll be playing my music and I’m realize, ‘Oh man, I’m blowing it. I got to go down to the next generation here.’

In these cases what do you turn to change the mood?
We have a mix called the big booty mix. I have to say that seems to get the people going. Yeah it’s straight house music so especially good for morning sessions. We operate early in the morning and late at night. So, you know, if you’re a 12 year old kid, you’re going to be pretty tired. Mom just woke you up out of bed and dragged you here. I mean, obviously you’re stoked, but it’s seven in the morning when you got here, but you probably woke up at 5 a.m. or vice versa. Or, you’re here at 11:00 or 12:00 at night. So the house music tends to get people going, especially here in Jersey. We like the fist pump.

And the preferred house music in New Jersey is different from the Euro “doof doof” music?
Yeah, it’s not quite the German ‘boots-and-pants-boots-and-pants’ beat. It’s a little different. I had to learn more about house music. I’m more of a classic rock kind of guy and a little eclectic. I keep it weird, keep it fun, keep it going.

greg kaasmann in New Jersey
Despite many hours at the pool, Greg finds ocean time whenever the surf is good. Photos and video Alyssa Malliae.

So what’s the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part is just seeing someone from another state that actively sought us out and they’re like, ‘Hey, I’ve never surfed. But I had a layover at Newark and I looked up what’s fun to do?’ And then they find SkudinSurf at American Dream, and they decide to go surfing. And they come out here and they stand up and they have a great time. And they talk about this like this is the best thing they’ve done all year. So that’s probably the most rewarding thing, just actively seeing people from all over the country and the world come here that have never surfed before then they try it out and love it and tell us, ‘I can’t believe more people don’t know about this place.’ So that to me is the most rewarding part of this job, just seeing raw beginners get bit by the surfing bug because you know they’re going to actively seek out another wave pool and start surfing.

And how about the work crew here?
Yeah, it’s a really tight crew here. We came here all strangers. And as cheesy as it sounds, we’re definitely all friends now. Yeah, we’re pretty tight-knit here. It’s like a little family. We are from Jersey, so it’s all about family.

This post is sponsored by Wavepooljobs – the LinkedIn for the Surf Park Industry