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Jared Orton of the Savannah Bananas Named Coastal Plain League Executive of the Year

Jared Orton of the Savannah Bananas Named Coastal Plain League Executive of the Year

The Coastal Plain League has announced Jared Orton of the Savannah Bananas as the 2018 CPL Executive of the Year. This marks Orton's first Executive of the Year award, he serves as the Bananas Team President.

"On behalf of the Coastal Plain League, I want to congratulate Jared on being the recipient of this high honor," said Justin Sellers, COO/Commissioner of the Coastal Plain League.  "Jared is a perfect combination of a brilliant mind, full of ideas, energy, and creativity; paired with the level of maturity, professionalism, and leadership you would find in a seasoned veteran.  As such, he is highly respected among his peers. This award is well deserved; and it's nice to see Jared recognized for all that he does to not only make the Savannah Bananas what they are, but also to help make the Coastal Plain League better overall."

Orton first started in the CPL as a part-time employee for the Gastonia Grizzlies from 2012-2013, a team owned at the time by Jesse and Emily Cole of Fans First Entertainment who now own the Bananas, while he finished his Sport Management degree at Belmont Abbey College in Charlotte. Upon graduating he accepted a position as the Assistant General Manager for the Burlington Royals, a rookie-level affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. After a few years in Burlington, given his familiarity with the Cole's from his time in Gastonia it was a no-brainer when Orton got the call to join the Bananas in preparation for their inaugural season in 2016. 

His nomination and selection as the Executive of the Year came via a process in which teams around the league nominate and thereafter vote on who they feel is most deserving. In addition to Orton the following candidates were nominated: Daniel Mackerty (Savannah Bananas), Barbara Osborne (Florence RedWolves) and Brian Rountree (High Point-Thomasville HiToms.)

Orton handles many of the team's biggest accounts and has helped lead the team to two consecutive seasons of over 100,000 fans and 60 straight sell-outs overall. The Bananas finished the season first in the CPL and second in all of summer collegiate baseball in attendance for the third-consecutive season. 

One of Orton's most praised qualities was his ability to lead an ever growing staff of 15 full-time employees, 10 interns, 200 game-day staff, and the coaches and players that come through each season. 

"We couldn't be more proud of Jared for receiving this honor," praised Jesse and Emily Cole. "He is truly one of the best leaders we've seen at any level and has been instrumental in leading the Bananas to another recording breaking season and 60 straight sell outs. He demonstrates the Fans First Way in everything he does and makes everyone better for being around him."
Orton was quick to acknowledge this leadership ability comes in large part to having been able to observe Jesse and Emily over his years of working for them both in Gastonia and now in Savannah.
"I'm quite fortunate to work with Emily and Jesse who are a wonderful example to me in their leadership," noted Orton. "They have challenged me to think differently, get outside of my comfort zone, and to be a continuous learner. They've always said, 'We trust you. This is your team. We know you'll make the right decision.' We've made plenty of right and wrong decisions along the way, but it's amazing to have that type of support from Emily and Jesse."
One of the ways his leadership shines through the most is the Bananas' post-game chats that take place after each home game between the entire staff to acknowledge the good and discuss how to improve in areas they may have falter that night. 
"If you ask any of our staff, interns, coaches, etc. I'd have to imagine they would say one of their favorite moments of the summer is post-game chat," said Orton. "At that point in the night we've literally been working 16+ hours to serve thousands of fans an amazing experience. At the end of the night, gathering everyone together over food and drinks allows us to connect and celebrate the amazing things that happened during the game. Even after all those long hours, I believe the post-game chat refills people. There are moments of laughing, crying, dancing, hugging, and cheers. It's something special."
When those 16+ hour days during the season end and the players, coaches and fans leave for the summer, the work doesn't stop for Orton and the Bananas as they are dedicated to turning Grayson Stadium into a year-round entertainment venue. With Orton at the head of the team's Events Department over the past year the team brought in events such as Food Truck Festivals, a Morning Beer Festival and country artists like Kane Brown and Chase Rice that filled the 5,000 seat stadium to capacity. 
"As we got in to year two and year three, we started dialing in on what really made the most sense for us which was to start creating and executing our own marquee events on a larger scale," explained Orton as to the progression of their non-baseball event season. "Events are a challenge for us to think differently and creatively with something totally new and fans will see that this upcoming off-season as we do an all you can eat food truck festival, a haunted stadium the week of Halloween, and Bananas Beach Bash which will feature the official Jimmy Buffet tribute band. Now we have Taylor Brockmiller overseeing and owning this category which will allow us to work together on strategy, tactics, and goals while allowing her to completely run it."
Orton is also a focal point of the team's media strategy as he does everything from social media to traditional radio and tv spots, to the teams own Bananas TV segments. It's an area he continues to grow in and one he understands is very important to success in the current social landscape.
"Our goal is to distribute the Bananas story as far and wide as it possibly can go and we have to rely on the media for that to be successful," said Orton. "None of us have ever worked in a major media market before, so it's been amazing to learn along the way. I laugh looking back at some of the live interviews I had back during the first season. I think I used the same generic responses every time. Now, I've become much better at story telling. We feel like the media outlets are just an extension of our team. It's our job to give them fresh and exciting content and they run with it."
He doesn't limit himself to talking with people through solely the media however, as Orton is heavily involved in the community through a number of organizations and events.
"There is no shortage of people to see and things to do in Savannah," Orton told us. "The biggest impact was made by giving speeches and sharing our story to as many people who would listen. I'm able to get out and make the Bananas personal for people. This year, I've been able to join the board of the Savannah Jaycees, and Rotary Club of Savannah South. Both organizations have challenged me to get outside of my comfort zone, learn more about Savannah, and serve the community with people who want to positively impact this city."
It's this full-scale approach to his job that earned Orton the distinction of CPL Executive of the Year and the reputation around the business as one of the rising stars in the industry. 
"I'm truly proud to be in a place where I'm challenged by our team to be the best I can be every single day," said Orton in regards to earning the award. "This year felt like a culmination of so much effort finally beginning to pay off for our organization. We put so much work in to making this the best year possible to Bananas fans and it's humbling to know that people recognize and appreciate what is happening in Savannah."
For more information on the Savannah Bananas and all of the exciting new ideas Orton and his staff have planned, stay tuned to for news and updates all off-season long.

About Coastal Plain League:

The Coastal Plain League is the nation's premier summer collegiate baseball league. Heading into its 22nd season in 2018, the CPL features 16 franchises playing in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.  To date, the CPL has had over 1,450 alumni drafted and 116 alums – including 2017 ALCS MVP, 2017 World Series champion, 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander, as well as 2017 NLCS MVP Chris Taylor – make their Major League debut.  For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @CPLBaseball.