MEET OUR FRONT OFFICE TEAM

TICKET TEAM

Devon Ashton

Ticket Experience, Groups

Hometown:

Hudson, OH

College:

University of South Carolina

Favorite Foods: Pizza and Pasta

Knows every word to every Jonas Brothers song

Devon interned for the Bananas in 2017 and joined full-time in 2019. 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 throughout the year! Devon has been deemed the cat lady of the office with her two cute cats, Ripley and Remy. Make sure to ask to see pictures!

Carson Bowen

Ticket Experience, Director

Hometown:

Apex, NC

College:

UNC Wilmington

Although he's a habitual ICEE enjoyer, he has never gotten brain-freeze

Can cook minute rice in 58 seconds

Having been in the industry since 2014, Carson is excited to be part of the Bananas front office team and dial in on the Ticket Experience! A former human baby and current proud graduate of UNC-Wilmington, Carson wants to camp in every state in America before he is 35.

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.

Carson takes great pride when commandeering control of the bluetooth speaker at the gathering, and spends too much time researching local history just to be the annoying guy who will point at buildings while walking downtown to say “Hey, did you know that…” followed by a fact that is most likely mis-remembered, but told with enough confidence to be believable.

Kurt Kessler

Ticket Experience, Groups

Hometown:

Dalton, GA

College:

Liberty University

Favorite Movie: Forrest Gump

Was a contestant on Wheel of Fortune

Kurt joined the Group Experience Team in January 2021 and has the unique experience of seeing a Bananas games from several different perspectives when it comes to groups. 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 to help groups find the same amazing experience he had when he was a group leader! In his free time Kurt loves spending time with his wife and their four kids: Isaac, Braeden, Mason, and Troy. When not helping groups you can find Kurt in his garage creating some amazing woodworking.

Evan Olowiany

Ticket Experience, Groups

Hometown:

Lacey, New Jersey

College:

Georgia Southern University

Favorite Food: Applebee's Boneless Buffalo Wings

Favorite Activity: Golfing

After graduating from Georgia Southern in 2021, Evan began an internship with the Savannah Bananas. He accepted the position of Group Sales Coordinator after the season and is looking forward to keep growing as a Banana! Evan loves the atmosphere down south as it is a bit different from his hometown in New Jersey. He is ready to make personal connections and creating lifelong fans as he continues his new role with the Bananas.

Lauren Henderson

Ticket Experience, Groups

Hometown:

Columbia, CT

College:

University of South Carolina Beaufort

Favorite food: Penne alla vodka

Favorite movie: Mamma Mia

Lauren is very excited to be part of the Bananas front office team and create fun, memorable experiences for all fans! Lauren enjoys the personal connections that she gets to make with each fan here in Savannah and during the shows on the road as well! In her down time, she enjoys spending time with her family and going to the beach.

Nick Alo

Ticket Experience, Operations

Hometown:

Cumming, GA

College:

Georgia Southern University

Once ate 48 wings at one time

Bananas Resident Big Bootie Mix Expert

Originally from Cumming, GA, Nick Made a brief 4 year stop at Georgia Southern University where he studied Sport Management and played Men’s Lacrosse. As the Bananas resident Big Bootie Mix (made famous by the electric electronic duo Two Friends) Expert and Eno hammock enthusiast, he is claimed to be a “great vibe”. Nick is really passionate about his faith and is excited to continue to grow with the Bananas Fan Base (aka the Best Fans in the Country).

Alisha Wetzel

Ticket Experience, Groups

Hometown:

Butler, PA

College:

Slippery Rock University

Favorite movie: Legally Blonde

Owns over 100 pairs of shoes

Alisha joined the Bananas in May 2022 as the Finance Intern and joined us full time in November 2022 as a Ticket Experience Coordinator. She attended Slippery Rock University where she worked in their Athletic Communications department. Creating relationships with our fans and making memorable experiences for them is one of her favorite things to do here in Bananaland. In her down time she enjoys shopping, going to the beach, and spending time with her friends. And yes she does actually own over 100 pairs of shoes…

Melissa Beale

Ticket Experience, Kclub

Hometown:

Elmwood Park, NJ

College:

Florida State University

Favorite Artist: Yung Gravy

Has swung from a flying trapeze once.

Melissa (lovingly referred to as Melly B) joined the Bananas squad as a marketing intern in the fall of 2021 after graduating from Florida State University with her bachelor’s degree in Marketing and her graduate degree in Sport Management. She was offered to extend her internship for the 2022 Banana Ball World Tour and is now excited to stay on full time starting in the fall of 2022. She loves making unforgettable experiences for and connections with Bananas fans across the nation, especially those in the Bananas K Club.

Melissa has difficulty keeping a hobby, but has dabbled in learning to play various instruments, painting by numbers, gardening, cross-stitching, baking, candle making and much much more. Her current hobby is fishing because she bought a reel before a lakeside camping trip. She hasn’t caught anything yet, so all fishing tips would be greatly appreciated. A Jersey girl at heart, she misses poppy seed bagels and pizza from her favorite spots back home. However, she is a huge fan of the city of Savannah. You can catch her strolling around downtown on Sundays after church, coffee in hand, exploring her new city and discovering all its nooks and crannies.

Madison Roof

Ticket Experience, Groups

Hometown:

Buford, Ga

Favorite Food: Mcdonald's Cheeseburgers or Hershey's bars

Has a huge crush on the Party Animals Pitcher in the shorts and cowboy hat

Originally from the Atlanta area, Madison moved down to South Georgia in 2013 and has called it home ever since. She has been a Bananas fan since attending her first game in 2018 and started with the Savannah Bananas merchandise team in January of 2023. She accepted a position helping with group tickets immediately following the 2023 World Tour and is super excited to create more lifelong fans of BananaBall. When not hanging with her best friend Cash(her dog) you can find her working out, hunting or cheering on her favorite BananaBall team…the Party Animals. 

 

Emily Harris

Ticket Experience, Operations

Hometown:

La Conner, Wa

College:

Washington State University

I live and breathe all things Christmas (it’s my middle name)

Road Sign Connoisseur

Emily joined the Bananas in January of 2023 as a ticket operations intern and joined full time in August of 2023! She dipped her toe in the ticket world working for  a small college summer team in Bellingham Washington, and quickly fell in love with serving fans and improving their gameday experience. Emily was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest (west coast best coast) in a small town straight out of a hallmark movie, which holds one of the largest tulip festivals. When she is not talking tickets, she is most frequently seen in the ocean playing mermaids with her friends. 

 

Lian Leduc

Ticket Experience, KClub

Hometown:

Suwanee, Georgia

College:

Auburn University (War Eagle!)

I was told I would be a Bananas employee while in Punta Cana

I am a former Bostonian and am truly a crazy Boston fan

Lian joined the Bananas summer of 2023 and became a Group Experience Intern! She is now a full time Ticket Experience Coordinator works specifically with our K-Club! She’s a recent graduate of Auburn University and majored in marketing with a minor in sports communications. Lian worked in Auburn’s athletic department and was a marketing and fan engagement intern. Loving on people was a passion that was cultivated during her time on the plains and is one of her favorite aspects of Bananaland. She is so excited to work with our most banana of Banana fans! In her free time you can find me working out, shopping, hanging with friends, or just sitting down doing a bible study. Lian says it has been an absolute blessing seeing her prayers become my reality! 

Henry Symulevich IV

Ticket Experience, Operations

Hometown:

Tampa, FL

College:

University of South Florida (Go Bulls!🤘🏼)

I have been to 15 different MLB Ballparks

Has turned visiting Forts into a sport

Henry joined the Bananas in August 2023 as a Ticket Operations Intern and joined full time in January of 2024.
He Graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Marketing with a Sports and Entertainment Management concentration in May of 2023.
In his free time you will most likely find Henry pillaging Ancient Forts, making homemade pizza, or trying on his 46th pair of shoes.

Lindsey Licitra

Ticket Experience: Operations

Hometown:

Peachtree City, GA

College:

College Of Coastal Georgia

I have been to 6 out of the 7 continents

I’m officially the shortest one in the office standing at a whopping 5’1 (my birthday is also Saint Patricks day so you could say she is a real life leprechaun)

Lindsey joined the Bananas in August 2023 as a Group Experience intern, and Joined full time as a Ticket Operations Coordinator. She graduated in May of 2022 with a Communications degree. When not selling tickets, she is most likely pranking people in the office. Lindsey loves meeting new fans by being a natural comedian everywhere she goes.

WORLD TOUR LOGISTICS TEAM

Patrick Briody

World Tour, Director

Hometown:

Bluffton, SC

College:

Coastal Carolina University

Hobbies: Golfing, reading, and dressing up as a banana.

Favorite Song: Free Bird- Lynyrd Skynyrd

Patrick, a member of the OG 2016 intern squad, has been with the team since the inaugural season. He looks forward to selling out games and bringing the Bananas experience of a lifetime to different cities on the road. Patrick can be found on any and every golf course in the low country and when he’s not in the tee box, he’s most likely next to the pond with a fishing pole and some bait. Click here to meet Patrick!

Tara Whiddon

World Tour, Operations

Hometown:

Bainbridge, GA

College:

University of Montevallo

Loves sunsets

Has a beagle named Bagel 

Tara joined the Bananas team in February of 2022 as an Entertainment Intern where she quickly fell in love with the teams culture and the beauty of Savannah.   Originally from the big city of Tallahassee, FL, she now calls the muddy waters of Bainbridge, GA home. This is where her beloved beagle, Silas, resides there as well as her best friends (aka parents and brother) Tal, Roxane and Trevor. Tara’s goal in life is to visit all National Parks. Tara has a passion for God, Taylor Swift and Diet Coke. 

 

Brynnan Norris

World Tour, Travel & Accommodations

Hometown:

Andover, KS

College:

Kansas State University

She has only missed 4 K-State home football games in her entire life

She has traveled to 11 countries

Hailing from the Sunflower State, Brynnan is a proud Kansas girl. However, she is no stranger to the beautiful Savannah, Georgia. After completing her bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University, Brynnan joined the Bananas as a Group Ticket Experience and Hospitality Intern in 2021. After a few years away from the Bananas working in the event industry, she is back & better than ever! Brynnan works alongside the swift Ninja and the wonderful Emily Cole to execute travel plans for the Banana Ball World Tour. Brynnan thrives off of organization to provide the best possible travel experiences for her fellow Bananas.
In her free time, you can catch Brynnan cheering on K-State sports, spending time with family, and creating charcuterie boards for friends – just ask about the charcuterie board her and Lauren Henderson created in their intern year!

Mary James

World Tour, Staffing Coordinator

Hometown:

Cincinnati, Ohio

College:

University of Cincinnati

Once ran the same 2-mile loop 51 times in 19 hours

Favorite food: the $4.99 rotisserie chicken from Costco

After graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Economics, Mary knew what she wanted to do with her life: spread joy. This ambition led her to interning with the Bananas during the 2023 World Tour and joining the team full time in October 2023. Mary is excited to spread Banana magic to Local Staff throughout our tour!  

Mary has a very spontaneous, adventurous spirit. Just ask her about the time she randomly ran a 100 mile race around the Isle of Mors in Demark. She believes Modelos are best consumed while running marathons. Her favorite shoes to wear to the gym are Birkenstocks. A guaranteed great day includes coffee, outdoors, and watermelon. 

Jesse DiSandro

World Tour, Logistics

Hometown:

Schaumburg, IL

College:

Illinois State University

Thinks that pimento cheese should be considered a meal

Is a tattoo enthusiast

Jesse came to Savannah in 2018 while in the military and instantly fell in love with the Lowcountry (and the Bananas)With a background of operations and logistics in the military as well as events and hospitality, Jesse joined the Bananas to help coordinate World Tour logistics and bring the show on the road! 

Olivia Grant

World Tour Coordinator

Hometown:

Ashburn, Virginia

College:

University of South Carolina

Bananas resident Swiftie

The way to her heart is through a bag of purple doritos

Olivia joined the Bananas in August 2023 as a Group Experience Intern and moved over to the World Tour Team in January 2024.
Olivia is a concert loving, karaoke singing, outdoorsy gal. You can catch her playing some tennis, pickleball, or getting some rays at the beach with her friends on an off-day. Olivia has always looked for a place where she can work hard and love what she does and found that right here with the Bananas. Warning: she will talk to you about Taylor Swift for hours if you let her.

CREATIVE TEAM

Kara Heater

Marketing, Director

Hometown:

Savannah, GA

College:

Georgia Southern University

Hot Take: Pineapple belongs on pizza

Favorite Way to Eat Eggs: Deviled

Kara joined the Nanner team in 2018 as a Marketing Intern and has blessed the office ever since with her below-average jokes and useless knowledge of the now dispersed boy band, One Direction (may they rest in peace). She is a Savannah native and loves nothing more than the sweet smell of the marsh on that evening ride home. Her favorite part of marketing is being able to build relationships with fans online and working with the rest of the creative team to create the content you see online. When she’s not in Bananaland, you can find her at her favorite Mexican Restaurant, Cancun, or relaxing on the couch playing games on her phone.

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 in 2020 and is the first Emmy-Award winning employee on the Bananas team. No, we’re not joking. 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 or doing weird interviews with players, 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. Keep up with all of Biko’s shenanigans on Twitter and Instagram at @BikoRicoSuave!

Ivan Traczuk

Creative Content, Director

Hometown:

Ocean City, NJ

College:

University of Miami

Favorite Movie: Good Will Hunting

Favorite Holiday: Thanksgiving

Ivan joined the Bananas in January 2022 after spending previous years in Los Angeles; though he only experienced two celebrity sightings, so did he really live there? He’s originally from Philadelphia but calls the Jersey Shore home. He doesn’t know Snooki though, so jury’s still out on whether he actually lived there either. He studied at the University of Miami and Syracuse University, which led Ivan to the MLB Network winning an Emmy with Broadcast Entertainer Biko Skalla (we swear he knows Biko).

Ivan is also a hula hoop champion, a marathon finisher, a proud cancer survivor and runner-up of the coveted Mr. OCHS male pageant show. Ivan credits his success and positive personality to his mother and two older sisters who showed him tough love and supported him in every decision and obstacle he’s ever faced!

Zack Breaux

Director of Film and Production

Hometown:

Cut Off, LA

College:

Northwestern State University

Favorite holiday: Mardi Gras

Favorite band: The Revivalists

Zack Breaux, pronounced “bro”, is a bayou boy from South Louisiana. You can find him anywhere there’s good food and live music. He loves cooking for friends and family and believes you can solve all the world’s problems over a 3-course meal at family dinner. A lover of the swamps and marshes, he grew up on the water. You can refer to Zack as: ZB, or just Zack Breaux! His loyalties will always be with the New Orleans Saints and is a firm believer that the only thing to beat Saturday nights in Death Valley are ball games at Grayson Stadium.  

 

Chad Reese

Broadcast Production

Hometown:

Savannah, GA

College:

Georgia Southern University

Favorite Movie Genre: 80s Italian Horror

Has beaten Guitar Hero 3 on Expert

Born and raised here in Savannah, Chad has been attending baseball games at Historic Grayson Stadium since he was still in diapers. During the inaugural season of the Bananas in 2016, Chad worked in the concession stands flipping hamburgers and cooking hotdogs and wondered if this new team was gonna be any good (Spoiler: they were). He then left Savannah to attend college at Georgia Southern University where he studied film. After an internship during the 2022 Banana Ball World Tour, and producing/directing live broadcasts for ESPN and the Bananas YouTube channel, Chad is back in Savannah, where he belongs, and has been able to bring the magic of his beloved hometown into the homes of thousands of fans across the globe.

Anna Kate Lebold

Marketing, Social & Graphic Design

Hometown:

Baton Rouge, LA

College:

Wittenberg University

Voted most likely to write a breakup song about you.

Anna Kate Lebold joined the team in August of 2023, relocating from good ol’ Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Although her family moved around frequently growing up, she considers Baton Rouge to be her “soul” town. In May of 2021, she graduated from Wittenberg University with a degree in graphic design, and promptly started her first internship in baseball. Since then, she’s worked for several teams, and now, (in her words) she has her absolute dream job! In her free time, Anna Kate is a country singer-songwriter, so check out her sassy tunes on Spotify!

Ian Schrift

Video Production, Coordinator

Hometown:

Somerset, PA

College:

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College

Hobbies: Hiking, biking, camping, and making coffee

Ian joined the Bananas in January 2023 as the Video Production intern and joined full time in September 2023 as the Video Production Coordinator. When he’s not in Bananaland, you’ll find him outside somewhere, whether hiking, biking, surfing, snowboarding (the Savannah Slopes are unmatched) or camping on an extended weekendHis favorite part about making videos is being able to create and tell new stories, and showcasing those to new audiences.

Chris Sacchi

Video Production, Coordinator

Hometown:

Ridgefield, CT

College:

Syracuse University

Chris Versace joined the Bananas in April 2023 as the brand-new Video Legend, although he’s still working on that last part. He’s also still working on his line-dancing, so catch him taking lessons over at Saddlebags on Thursday nights.

As the Video soon-to-be Legend, Chris works hard to create the best fan experiences on all Bananas and Party Animals social media platforms, as well as the live Banana Ball Youtube broadcast (shoutout BTV!)

Chris has and always will be a massive baseball fan, and has fallen in love with Banana Ball as a perfect way to bring all sorts of fans. While he now resides in sunny Savannah, Chris will never stop bleeding his Orange and Blue for the New York Mets (sorry Biko,) and New York Knicks (let’s go Biko!)

If you ever need Sacchi, just drive out to Tybee Island, identify the best surf swell, and you will find yourself a Sacchi paddling around out there. Chris’s love for the waves is matched only by his love of Italian food (and all food overall, really. He’s been thinking about Pizza the whole time you’ve been reading this.)

Chris is so fired up and thankful to be going Bananas (and Party Animals!) with you all, and looks forward to sharing everything about Banana Ball on all social platforms!

Katelyn Scott

Creative Content, Coordinator

Hometown:

Dahlonega, GA

College:

The University of Georgia

I wear socks and tennis shoes to the beach and, when I'm feeling crazy, socks and sandals

Mantis shrimp can punch at the speed of a .22 caliber bullet and have the strongest punch in the entire animal kingdom. Those suckers can break through the shells of their prey AND aquarium glass.

Katelyn started her internship with the Bananas shortly after returning from her most recent trip to the moon in February of 2022. Since NASA has yet to reach out again for another voyage (those dang robots are taking all of our jobs), she has since accepted a more permanent position with the Bananas while awaiting for her private detective agency to take off. You know what they say: Videography is a gateway drug to becoming an international spy, second to telemarketing.

In her limited free time, (she moonlights as a chef in a Michelin 3-star restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen and the commute is brutal), she enjoys the art of dance, street fighting, writing fiction (though everything in this bio is 100% factual), and is a budding TikTok influencer. Ask her about the history of dentistry and the Kellogg brothers and she’ll be happy to share any and all information she knows.

 

Josh Talevski

Statistical Savant

Hometown:

Madison, Georgia

College:

The University of Georgia

Thinks way too much about immaculate grid rarity scores

Considered blind by the government's standards

Hailing from The Peach State, Josh spent most of his adolescent life memorizing the backs of every baseball card in his possession and filling out box scores in the stands of Turner Field and Truist Park cheering on his beloved Atlanta Braves. It’s safe to say things haven’t changed too much since then! Josh spent four years at the University of Georgia barking at opposing SEC football fans, playing basketball for the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government Cup (affectionately known as “The Buc”) and perfecting an index to aptly rank every quarterback in the NFL. Oh, and getting a degree in journalism too! In 2022, Josh joined the Bananas as a broadcast production intern and used his above average penmanship and tales of Livan Reinoso to join Biko Skalla on whiteboard broadcasts! As the 2023 Banana Ball World Tour began, the statistics department beckoned Josh to live in the land of OPS+ and Minutes Per Inning, which also led him to share the broadcast booth with Biko on BTV! When Josh isn’t living in Excel City, you can find him making the best chicken wings and sauce known to man or watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s “The Nightman Cometh” for the 44th time! For more Banana Ball box scores, you can also check out @JoshTalevski on Twitter! 

Sam Bauman

Media Relations Specialist

Hometown:

Granville, OH

College:

Wheeling Jesuit University

Sam once signed up to compete in the Winter Olympic Trials for Bobsled (he didn’t show up though)

Sam has never once had an ear infection.

Sam comes to Bananaland after spending 10 years working in local news, from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Indiana and the last four in beautiful Savannah. That’s where he first fell in love with all things Bananas, clamoring to tell as many stories on them as possible. Now working with the Bananas Sam gets to help share those amazing stories every day all across the country. Oh, he also has a cool blind cat named Occhi and an even cooler wife named Blair!

Amelia Berg

Marketing, Social Strategy & Graphic Design

Hometown:

Loudoun County, Virginia

College:

Virginia Commonwealth University

Is trying to go to every NFL stadium, so far has only gone to 5 out of 30

Loves pugs

Amelia Joined the Bananas in March 2023 as a Marketing/ Photography intern shortly after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University where she got a major in film and photography and a minor in Media studies.

Outside of work you can catch Amelia at Tybee island (If she could live outside on the beach she would), Chick-fil-a (Chick-fil-a sauce>>), FaceTiming her dogs at home (May be biased but her dogs Rosie and Hazel are the cutest dogs to ever exist), napping (probably could go for a nice nap right now), going on sunset walks (Savannah definitely has the best sunsets I’ve ever seen), or going on weekend trips with friends. (Specifically Katelyn Scott) P.S. she made me say that.

ENTERTAINMENT TEAM

Zack Frongillo

Director of Entertainment

Hometown:

Littleton, Colorado

College:

University of Nevada Las Vegas

Favorite Artist: Cody Johnson

Also Known as The Savannah Bananas Ballet Player

Zack, originally apart of the Vegas Golden Knights Entertainment Team (2017-2021), joined the Savannah Bananas as Director of Entertainment in 2021 with the One City World Tour. Zack is responsible for the overall entertainment of a Bananas or Party Animals game. Zack oversees all of the “Over The Top” moments, player rehearsals, promotions, special effects, and in house technology. Fun fact, in the 2023 season, the Bananas executed over 1050 unique moments, promotions, and scoring celebrations. 

The Young Professor

Entertainment, Cast Director

Has rode in a blimp

Has been Mauled by a Sasquatch

The Young Professor, Matt Graifer, started out as just that: a young professor! At age 25, he began his career in education as a college professor in the field of exercise science before taking his presentation skills into the field of entertainment. What started out as a part time job hosting weekly trivia games in restaurants became a hosting journey in professional sports and beyond. The Professor made his first appearance in Bananaland back in 2021 as a guest announcer for a July CPL game before becoming a mainstay during the 2022 and 2023 Banana Ball World Tours as an in-game host. He now joins the Nanners full time as the Cast Director and Chief Potassium Enthusiast. Matt lives in Central Florida with his wife Shanna and their four children: Fionn, Morrigan, Adam, and Lili. 

Isaac Powell

Entertainment, Coordinator

Also known on game days as Isaac Cool

Awarded Best School Mascot at an award show featured on CBS Sports at Walt Disney World.

Isaac joined the Bananas family in January of 2023 as an Entertainment Intern prior to being hired full time following the conclusion of the 2023 Banana Ball World Tour. Previously, Isaac operated in MiLB from 2017 to 2022 holding the title as Promotions Manager (Mahoning Valley Scrappers) throughout his final season. Despite the fact that Isaac was an on-field host during his time in minor league baseball, he also hosted in the USHL for the Youngstown Phantoms. Born and raised in Hubbard, Ohio, Isaac has spent most of his time either performing on stage, serving at his hometown church, coaching his high school’s spirit program, or spending time with family.  

MERCHANDISE TEAM

Mandolyn Howard

Merchandise, Director

Hometown:

Wrens, GA

College:

Georgia Southern University

Favorite Drink: Sweet Tea

Favorite Movie: The Game Plan

Mandolyn started interning with the Banana team in the Summer of 2021 and accepted her full time position as Merchandise Coordinator in September 2021! Mandolyn spent her time at Georgia Southern University cheering on her Eagles before becoming a die hard Banana fan. She looks forward to bringing all of her knowledge about clothing and merchandising to the team!

Heather Dalton

Merchandise, Physical Retail

Hometown:

St Petersburg, FL

College:

St Petersburg College

Specializes in making a mean batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Known to be an expert dental flosser.

Born and raised in St Petersburg, FL, Heather was originally a licensed dental hygienist aspiring for a second career path. After moving to Savannah in January of 2023, Heather joined the Savannah Bananas  in the merchandise fulfillment team along with working on the road for the Bananaball World Tour 2023. Heather has now upgraded her status to merch queen in physical retail of slanging t-shirts. In her free time, she likes to work out at the gym to keep up with her love of eating the baked sweets she makes. 

 

Carley Moore

Merchandise Coordinator

Hometown:

Athens, GA

College:

University of Georgia

I used to raise & show dairy cows in livestock shows

I can name all 50 states in alphabetical order

I joined the Bananas in May of 2023 as an intern with the merchandise department.  I started working full time in January of 2024 as the physical retail merchandise coordinator! I graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Public Relations and minor in Sports Management. I love all things Georgia Football and I don’t think there is much that will ever beat a Saturday night in Sanford stadium. When I’m not slinging shirts you can find me hanging out with friends, reading, or probably going on a hot girl walk! Go dawgs!

Shane Brown

Merchandise Coordinator, Distribution Center

Hometown:

New Port Richey, Florida

College:

Sonoran Desert Institute

Served in the United States Marine Corps.

Makes a variety of hot sauces

PEOPLE & OPERATIONS TEAM

Marie Matzinger

People & Culture, Director

Hometown:

Greensboro, NC

College:

Gardner-Webb University

Favorite Food Group: Queso

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. While she’s worn many hats during her time with the team, Marie now focuses on making sure our full time and part time staff are equipped with the tools they need to be Fans First. She’s passionate about growing our team culture and bringing people onboard that raise our bar! When she’s not at the stadium, Marie loves trying new restaurants and breweries with her husband. Marie’s proud to call Savannah home and looks forward to seeing how the Bananas can continue to bring people together.

Tucker Brooks

People & Culture, Development

Hometown:

Charlotte, NC

College:

NC State

Has danced alone with MC Hammer to no music in the California Red Woods

Once sat two rows behind Donald Trump at a sumo wrestling match in Tokyo

I cry your mercy, for today… today, you find yourselves equals.

For you are all equally blessed. For I have the pride, the privilege, nay, the pleasure of introducing to you to a People and Culture Developer, sired by People and Culture Developers. Hailing from the great State of North Carolina we are joined by a husband, a brother, a father… a son. A Packers and Crimson Tide fanatic. He’s a runner he’s a track star, and he’s been hit by a car attempting to bike across the country. In Greece he spent a year in silence just to better understand the sound of a whisper. And so, without further gilding the lily and with no more ado, I give to you, the seeker of serenity, the cultivator of culture, a disciple of the Lord our God himself, the one, the only, Tucker (Buddy) Brooks.

Tim Naddy

Vice President of Finance

Hometown:

Satellite Beach, FL

College:

University of Florida

FAVORITE ARTIST: RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

FASHION STATEMENT: SLEEVES ARE OVERRATED

Wait…he’s a CPA?!?  Unequivocally, yes. Dr. Naddy has heard this quip many times throughout his expansive accounting career, which has encompassed: public/private/non-for-profit accounting; internet startup pioneering; private equity-backed international franchising; and, his all-time-favorite role, university professor-ing. Breaking the mold of your typical accountant, this Type A stirs what should be shaken with a pound of positivity seasoned with a pinch of panache. 

Espousing a personal mantra of Integrate, Educate, Elevate…and Entertain, Tim finds his stride in teaching and mentoring whether he’s in the boardroom, classroom, or dugout. He and his wife Jennifer have three Naddy Boys who are all bunch of Bananas!

Ret Weeks

Stadium Operations, Capital Projects

Hometown:

Savannah, GA

College:

Georgia Southern

Fun Fact: I was a Cheerleader

Fun Fact 2: Took him two hours to come up with a fun fact

Ret was born and raised in Savannah and attended Calvary Day School before doing his undergrad in Finance at Georgia Southern University. He enjoys spending his weekends in his boat with his dog and friends. He also enjoys coaching cheer and going to Georgia Southern football games in the Fall. Ret started with the Bananas as a bartender in 2020 and is excited to continue his Bananas journey as the Operations Coordinator.

Neil Trumler

Operations Director

Hometown:

Overland Park, KS

College:

Oregon Culinary Institute

Favorite Fast Food Chain: Taco Bell

Once ran a half marathon in a Darth Vader mask

Neil is a lover of all things food. He attended Oregon Culinary Institute and graduated with honors in Portland, OR. Before landing in Savannah, Neil has lived and worked in 8 cities including Girdwood, AK and Melbourne AUS. Neil loves spending time with his wife, Sarah, his daughter, Camilla, and his dog, Oscar.

Jolie Chabala

Banana Foster Program Coordinator

Hometown:

Scranton, PA

College:

Lebanon Valley College

Elton John's biggest fan

Always has the snacks

Jolie, please reference the actress “Angelina Jolie” and NOT the iconic and infamous Dolly Parton song “Jolene”, grew up in the Endless Mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania. A Lebanon Valley College graduate of 2018, she studied History and Communications and has always had a passion for community service. Jolie is an enthusiast of dogs, chicken tenders, and Bloody Mary’s. When she has her earphones in, she is likely listening to a playlist consisting of Elton John, Pitbull, and Hamilton the musical.

*BEEP, BEEP * don’t be alarmed, that’s just an alert on Jolie’s insulin pump, cause she’s a Type One Diabetic.

Jolie’s been with the Bananas since February 2023. She is excited for all things Bananas Foster and creating a positive impact on the foster care community!

Kaz Hoffman

Financial Data Analyst

Hometown:

West Middlesex, PA

College:

Slippery Rock University

Has hit a home run at Grayson Stadium (batting practice)

Favorite Movie: The Dark Knight

Kaz started with the Bananas prior to the 2023 World Tour as the Financial Operations Intern, and has since transitioned on to a full time role within the finance department as the first Business “Bananalyst” in September of 2023. Kaz graduated with a degree in Statistics from Slippery Rock University while completing a minor in Sports Management. Kaz is also only one of 2 front office members to have played baseball at the collegiate level, and he lives vicariously through Friday post-work batting practice sessions. While he’s just getting started here in Bananaland, he is very excited to continue building great relationships and improve quality of business as Bananaball spreads globally! 

Duncan Sligh

Satdium Operations, Employee Experience

Hometown:

Athens, Ga

College:

Georgia Southern University (Armstrong Campus)

Only listened to Dave Matthews Band for the first 15 years of my life.

Was Editor-in-Chief of my campus newspaper!

Duncan started with the Bananas in May 2023 and has been hiring and staffing for Bananas home games at Grayson Stadium ever since! When he’s not at work, Duncan spends his time playing music, writing fiction, and yelling at his TV while the Braves are playing. Rumor has it that he can be spotted at various open mic and karaoke events in Savannah, where he routinely brings the house down with his “Valerie” cover.

Matt Bieser

Stadium Operations, F&B Specialist

Favorite movie: Star Wars

Fun fact: Has gone swimming with both sharks and dolphins

Matthew, “Bies”, or “Bieser”, grew up in Lake Orion, MI and moved to Fort Mill, SC in 2013He went to the University of South Carolina where he majored in Sport and Live Entertainment Management (Go Gamecocks). Matthew is a lover of all thing’s sports, and his two dogs: Ares and London. 

Hailey Hallman

Stadium Operations, Catering

Hometown:

McIntyre, Georgia

College:

Georgia Southern University

90% of her camera roll is her dog, Mister Finn

Makes a world famous chicken and rice

Hailey first joined the Bananas as a Gameday Teammate in May 2022. Her passion for the Bananas led her to transition into the role of Hospitality Intern in May 2023 and join full-time in January 2024. Hailey graduated from Georgia Southern University in December 2023 earning a degree in Business Management. When she’s not in Bananaland, you can catch Hailey playing mermaids in the ocean with her friends, hanging out with her dog Mister Finn, or watching Friends. 

Amanda Purtle

Financial Coordinator

Hometown:

Southaven, MS

College:

University of Memphis/ DeVry University

I am obsessed with alligators, and I would hug one if it would not eat me

My favorite ride at Disney World is Sorin’

I have a background in management, inventory, and hotel accounting for Hilton. I started off my college journey at the University of Memphis and finished my accounting degree at Devry university. I played softball most of my life before hanging up my cleats to go to college. I am a huge fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues. When not working I enjoy reading, lake days with my family or hanging out with my 2 huskies.  

BASEBALL OPERATIONS TEAM

Berry Aldridge

Banana Ball 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.

Kyle Luigs

Banana Ball Player & Bananas Academy Instructor

Hometown:

Richmond Hill, GA

College:

Jacksonville State University

Is Hasbulla’s biggest fan

Does not know how to swim

Kyle has been a pitcher for the Bananas since 2018, and was a member of the 2021 CPL championship team. He also is in charge and oversees all of the youth camps that the Bananas put on! He has successfully completed numerous synchronized dances during games, and is open to anything that the fans will find entertaining. Kyle played three years at the University of North Georgia before transferring to play his last year of eligibility at Jacksonville State University. In his free time he enjoys going on spur of the moment trips, taking naps, and playing golf. Line dancing is among the latest talent he has mastered in his life long journey of being at least average in every aspect of life.

Bill LeRoy

Banana Ball Player & Bananas Academy Instructor

Hometown:

Dublin, Georgia

College:

University of North Georgia

Secret Talent: Excellent breakfast chef

Hobby: Hosting 2 below average tv-shows

Bill has played 4 summers with the summer collegiate CPL Bananas team, and has decided to extend his lifelong quest of playing baseball for the Bananas by joining the Bananas Premier Team. The country boy from Dublin loves anything in the outdoors, especially fishing, hunting, and golfing. He has added some much needed twang to the office, but will surprise you with the variety of music he listens to and the dance moves that go along with it.

Tyler Gillum

Savannah Bananas Head Coach

Hometown:

Ada, Oklahoma

College:

East Central University

In 2017, set a life goal to have a positive impact on 1,000,000 people.

Wears cowboy boots on the field.

Tyler has been the Head Coach of the Savannah Bananas since 2018. In his tenure, the Bananas have had over 20 players drafted into the MLB while also winning Back-to-Back CPL Championships in 2021 & 2022 before going ALL-IN on Banana Ball. Tyler played a role in creating the original Banana Ball rules and attending the first ever Banana Ball game at Lander University in the Fall of 2018.

He coached college baseball for 13 years. He recently spent the last 11 years at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. During his time at SMCC, Gillum was the Associate Head Coach and the Director of Exercise Science, overseeing all the Strength & Conditioning for Athletics.

Additionally, Gillum is a keynote speaker at conventions and clinics around the country specializing in culture, team building, infield development and baserunning.

Gillum out kicked his coverage by marrying Danielle Gillum in 2019. Together they have a 3-year-old son named Camden.

Adam Virant

Savannah Bananas Assistant Coach

Hometown:

Papillion, NE

College:

Fort Scott CC; George Mason University

Was an attorney for 10 years and hated every second of it.

His college dorm was across from Jason Sudeikis (SNL and movie star).

Coach Viro joined the Bananas as an Assistant Coach in 2021 for the One City World tour. He then returned in 2022  as the Manager of the Party Animals. Viro then joined the Bananas full-time in 2023 as the Director of Baseball Operations and Associate Head Coach. Having lived in NYC for 20 years, Viro is a self-proclaimed pizza and coffee snob, lover of animals and the third most famous KC Royals behind Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis. He loves everything about Bananaland and helping grow the game of Banana Ball. 

TEAM PRESIDENT

Jared Orton

President

Hometown:

Burlington, N.C.

College:

Belmont Abbey

Favorite Artist: Taylor Swift

Decaf Coffee Enthusiast

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.

Kate Denes

Executive Rock Star to Jared

Hometown:

London, Ohio

College:

Wittenberg University

Can quote The Office from start to finish

Never met a song I didn’t know

Coming all the way from the nation’s capital Kate joined the Bananas team September of 2023. Originally from the Buckeye State Kate studied Spanish and Political Science at Wittenberg University- Tiger up! Her life long dream is to be the President of the United States!  

When Kate isn’t helping keep our president organized you can find her at the local farmers market, trying a new restaurant, or drinking June shine at Starland Yard with her husband and their two dogs Queso & Churro!

TEAM OWNERS

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 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

Owner

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.

Jesse Cole, also known as “the guy in the yellow tuxedo” is the founder of Fans First Entertainment and the owner of the world-famous Savannah Bananas as well as the Party Animals and Firefighters.

With the mantra “Fans First. Entertain Always”, the Bananas are on a mission to Make Baseball Fun by creating the Greatest Show in Sports.

The team has sold out every game since their inaugural season in Savannah and has since grown a ticket waitlist of more than 2 million fans from all over the world.

With more than 15 million social media followers and features on such outlets as The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, HBO Real Sports and Access Hollywood in addition to  Bananaland, a five-part documentary original series on ESPN+, the Savannah Bananas are just getting started.

Jesse is the proud inventor of the fastest and most entertaining game of baseball, Banana Ball. Banana Ball puts a fun twist on traditional baseball with new rules featuring a two-hour time limit, no walks, no bunting, no stepping out of the box, no mound visits and best of all, fans can catch a foul ball for an out.

He is the not-so-proud promoter of the Grandma Beauty Pageant, the Human Horse Race, the Living Pinata, and Flatulence Fun Night.

In addition to the wildly successful Banana Ball, Jesse continues to create raving fans all over the world as a best-selling author of “Fans First, Find Your Yellow Tux”, and as a highly sought-after international keynote speaker for some of the world’s largest and most respected organizations.

Most of all, Jesse is a raving fan of his wife, Emily, his 3 kids, and peerless promoters like Walt Disney and PT Barnum.

Taylor Tinker

Executive Rock Star to Jesse

Hometown:

Farmington, Missouri

College:

Indiana University

Spent 3 years living in Germany

Met her husband on her first day of working for the Bananas

Taylor first joined the Banana bunch in 2018 as the Director of Events where she hosted the Tap of the Morning Beer festival, All You Can Eat Food Truck festival, and much more! In 2019 Taylor peeled out of Savannah and headed to Germany where her husband is stationed with the Army. Luckily the stars aligned, and Taylor is back working with the Bananas as the Executive Rock Star to Jesse Cole. She loves every minute of representing the Bananas in the most Fans First way possible!

Taylor is terrified of birds, obsessed with her Dalmatian (Pongo), and is always looking for a way to brighten someone’s day!

Renee Jacobs

Executive Rockstar to Emily

Hometown:

Schwenksville PA

College:

STAR (ask me!) but Future Liberty University Graduate

Once held tree pose on a paddle board and has pictures to prove it!

Hot Take: Bryce Harper > Tomato Pie > Pizza

Renee joined the Savannah Bananas in June 2023 with experience spanning legal to hospitality and everything in between as a career E+PA/CoS/Ops/professional cat herder. To her, the Savannah Bananas is a certain kind of special because each person in the organization “walks the walk and talks the talk” with love and authentic hearts towards people. She takes a concierge approach in all that she does and feels blessed to support her Bananas family and Fans to make them feel like they’re the only person in the room.  Sometimes she forgets to breathe when she’s talking….you’re officially warned! She has a dry sense of humor,  carries a pocketful of glitter and confetti, participates in all the “bananagans”, thrives with her hair on fire, and lives by “Look for the best in all situations. Make the best of all situations.”

Things I definitely like: smoothies with okra, Banana Ball, Lake Tahoe, playing with words

Things I’m starting to like: kettlebell swings, golf

Things I think I’d like: pool, rowing, glass blowing, camping, math

Things I don’t think I’d like: jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, planks