Jared Orton
President
Hometown:
Burlington, N.C.
College:
Belmont Abbey

Jared began working with Fans First Entertainment with Savannah’s sister team in Gastonia, NC. while he completed his degree in Sport Management at Belmont Abbey College. While with the Grizzlies, attendance grew to new heights for the franchise as Jared began to tap into new niches of fans in the marketplace. After the 2013 season in Gastonia, Jared became the Assistant General Manager of his hometown Burlington Royals.

Because of a relentless focus on entertainment and ticket sales, the Royals were fortunate to see tremendous growth in attendance and revenue during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Jared is now taking those experiences, along with the experiences of Fans First Entertainment, to develop a value-packed, non-stop, entertainment experience for Savannah fans. Jared currently lives in Savannah with his wife, Kelsey. Click here to meet Jared!

Berry Aldridge
Baseball Operations Coordinator
Hometown:
Swainsboro, GA
College:
Armstrong State University
Favorite Quote: "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains." - Ebbie Calvin "Nuke" Laloosh
Interesting Fact: Was chased out of the woods by a mama black bear with cubs.

Berry joined the Banana family full time after interning with the team during the 2016 season. He is now going into his 6th season with the team and is transitioning into a new role, Baseball Operations Coordinator. He is originally from Swainsboro, GA, where his father coached baseball and his mother taught English Literature. He attended Armstrong here in Savannah, GA on a baseball scholarship and earned a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. Berry is excited to work with the coaching staff to teach the Bananas’ players our brand of baseball and help them receive national exposure to further their careers.

Patrick Briody
Director of Group Tickets
Hometown:
Bluffton, SC
College:
Coastal Carolina University
Hobbies: Golfing, reading, and dressing up as a banana.
Favorite Song: Free Bird- Lynyrd Skynyrd

After spending the 2016 inaugural season as an intern with the Savannah Bananas, Patrick accepted the opportunity to be a full-time employee as the Banana’s Group Sales Coordinator. He looks forward to selling out games at Historic Grayson Stadium and giving local groups in the community the experience of a lifetime. Click here to meet Patrick!

Devon Ashton
Group Experience Coordinator
Hometown:
Hudson, OH
College:
University of South Carolina
Favorite Promotion: Sing in the Blank
Favorite Food: Chicken Fingers

After interning with the Bananas during the summer of 2017, Devon is excited to be back with the Bananas full time! Following her graduation from the University of South Carolina, Devon worked as an event coordinator in beautiful Hilton Head Island, SC. Her passion for helping create amazing experiences for people will spearhead her efforts to take care of Bananas fans at games this season! Click here to meet Devon!

Kurt Kessler
Group Experience Coordinator
Hometown:
Dalton, GA
College:
Liberty University
Favorite Movie: Forrest Gump
Favorite Restaurant: Mellow Mushroom

Kurt joined the Group Experience Team in January 2021 and has the unique perspective of seeing Bananas games from several different perspectives. Kurt brought a group from his church out to a game in 2017 (where he won the Best Bark Award  at Bark in the Park), worked as Usher Team Captain during the summer of 2020, and now gets the incredible opportunity to help groups find the same amazing experience he had as a group leader. In his free time Kurt loves spending time with his two kids, Isaac and Braeden, and doing woodworking.

Carson Bowen
Member Experience Coordinator
Hometown:
Apex, NC
College:
UNC Wilmington
Favorite Sweet: Ice Cream Sandwiches
Favorite Movie: Dumb and Dumber

After 7 years in the industry, Carson is excited to be part of the Bananas front office team and dial in on Member Experiences! A proud graduate of UNC-Wilmington, Carson wants to camp in every state in America before he is 30. He will bring his wealth of useless music knowledge and curious spirit to Savannah, where he will strive to become the town’s leading expert on local eateries, Bananas tickets, and coffee shops.

Prior to joining the Bananas, Carson helped revitalize his previous team in Wilmington, NC by reinventing the game day experience for fans and doubling attendance from when he first joined the organization as a play-by-play commentator until he finished up his days with the organization as General Manager.

Lizzy Mackerty
Director of Merchandise
Hometown:
Hamilton, OH
College:
Ohio University
Favorite Promotion: Dancing in the dark
Favorite BallPark Food: Chicken Sandwiches

Lizzy moved to Savannah in the summer of 2015. She loves the southern charm and all the excitement Savannah has to offer. Lizzy enjoys helping children & families make the best memories possible at Grayson Stadium by coordinating host families, child & adult birthday parties, and both Savannah Bananas baseball camps. She also runs our Merchandise Department! You can always find her in the Banana Stand during games. She looks forward to another successful season full of amazing fans and great baseball! Click here to meet Lizzy!

Marie Matzinger
Fans First Director
Hometown:
Greensboro, NC
College:
Gardner-Webb University
Favorite Promotion: Guess-Your-Spouse
Favorite Quote: "Perhaps this is the moment for which you were created." - Ester 4:14

Marie moved to Savannah in 2015 to help Fans First Entertainment launch the new team and has been blessed to see the Banana Pandemonium unfold since day one. She’s proud to call Savannah home now and looks forward to seeing how the Bananas can continue to bring this great community together. Click here to meet Marie!

Kara Heater
Marketing Director
Hometown:
Savannah, GA
College:
Georgia Southern University
Favorite Movie: Holes
Favorite Restaurant: Cancun on Wilmington Island

Kara joined the Bananas family after interning during the 2018 season. She is a Savannah, GA native and is pumped to be back in her home city. Her favorite things about marketing include being able to create fun content and engage with the fans on social media. In her down time, she enjoys listening to some tunes and relaxing at the beach.

Johnathan Walters
Stadium Operations Coordinator
Hometown:
Wilmington, DE
Favorite Drink: Arnold Palmer
Favorite Type of Food: Sushi

Johnathan has lived in four different states in his life, but has lived in Savannah for over a decade now. He graduated from a local high school, Benedictine Military School, in 2016. He started working for the Savannah Bananas in 2017 as one of the first ever parking penguins. He worked the following two seasons as a bartender at Top Deck and in Stadium Club.  He was offered a seasonal full-time position for the 2020 season which then led him to a year round full-time position as the Stadium Operations Coordinator. He is thrilled to continue on this journey with the Bananas and to continue putting smiles on the faces of our fans!

Matt Powell
Finance Director
Hometown:
Soperton, GA
College:
University of Georgia
Favorite Movie: The Final Season
Favorite Meal: Hot sauce with a little chicken.

Matt accepted the opportunity to join the Bananas family as a seasonal Ticket Experience Coordinator during the 2018 season and recently accepted the position full-time. Matt spent his time at the University of Georgia yelling and cheering on the Bulldogs. Now in Savannah, he looks forward to bringing his passion for entrepreneurship and love for sports to ensure the greatest fan experience at Historic Grayson Stadium. Click here to meet Matt!

Nick Freeman
Video Production Coordinator
Hometown:
Douglas, GA
College:
Georgia Southern University
Favorite Movie: Emperor's New Groove
Favorite Sweet Treat: Oreos

After being brought on as an intern prior to the 2020 season, Nick was happy to accept a full time position on the Bananas team. He enjoys being able to capture the awesome Fans First moments that happen within Grayson Stadium and thinks a big perk to the job is the people he gets to work with. When he’s not filming or taking pictures at the stadium, he likes going for runs and playing with his doggo, Indi.

Biko Skalla
Broadcast Entertainer
Hometown:
Saugerties, NY
College:
Syracuse University
Favorite Drink: Milk
Favorite Movie: The Lord of the Rings

Biko joined the Bananas as the Broadcast Entertainer for the 2020 season and before the summer was over had accepted a part-time job to produce Bananas content throughout the offseason and return for the 2021 campaign. Hailing from Saugerties, New York, Biko came to Savannah after a couple years at MLB/NHL Network where he was a Broadcast Associate and then an Associate Producer. A Syracuse University graduate, Biko bleeds orange and prides himself a scholar of New York Yankees history. When he’s not broadcasting baseball, you can often find him on his dad and stepmom’s farm in Saugerties playing with the dogs or sharing baseball cards with the goats.

Ben Sheffield
Director of Film & Production
Hometown:
Eastman, GA
College:
Georgia Southern University
Favorite Superhero: Batman
Favorite Thing Ever: Ranch Dressing

After interning with the Bananas during the 2016 season, Ben accepted the offer to become a full time employee and create videos for the Bananas year round. He is hungry to produce more professional, viral content that will get everyone talking about the Bananas! Outside of filming and editing, Ben loves to write, record, and perform original music.

Emily Cole
Owner
Favorite Things: Guys in Yellow Tuxes, Early Morning Runs w/ Girlfriends, Audiobooks, Mac & Cheese, Family Time, Renovating Old Houses, Craft Beer and Traveling

Prior to her work with Fans First Entertainment which began in 2011, Emily spent time with Ripken Baseball and the Augusta GreenJackes as well as the Vermont Lake Monsters and the Binghamton Mets. Emily’s biggest passion with the team is working with the full time staff, interns, and hundreds of game day staff workers to focus on the culture,service, and logistics of events held at the ballpark.

After the birth of their son, Maverick, Emily stepped back a little from every day operations to raise Mav and the other children in their care (Jesse and Emily are foster parents) but can still be found often around the stadium. She also oversees their Airbnb rentals on Tybee and is the local Savannah community mom for Bambino, an app that connects parents and babysitters. Emily wrote the team’s first children’s book, titled Go Bananas! which you can read more about here.

Click here to meet Emily!

Jesse Cole is the founder of Fans First Entertainment and owner of the Savannah Bananas.

His teams have welcomed more than one million fans to their ballparks and have been featured on MSNBC, CNN, ESPN and in Entrepreneur Magazine. 

The Bananas have been awarded Organization of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Business of the Year and won the CPL Championship in their first year.  Fans First Entertainment has been featured on the INC 5000 lists as one of the fastest growing companies in America.

The Savannah Bananas currently have sold out every game since their first season and have a waiting list in the thousands for tickets.

Jesse released his first book “Find Your Yellow Tux – How to Be Successful by Standing Out” in January of 2018 with a World Book Tour…at Epcot. 

Cole has been featured on over 500 podcasts and is an in-demand keynote speaker all over the country sharing the Fans First Experience on how to stand out, be different and create raving fans of both customers and employees.  

Cole is the Host of the Business Done Differently Podcast and has interviewed over 100 of some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs, authors and speakers. Click here to meet Jesse!

Fun Fact: Cole owns seven yellow tuxedos and proposed to his wife Emily in the yellow tux in front of a sold out crowd.  She said Yes!  The two later married at their stadium.  In 2018, they welcomed their first baby banana, Maverick.