November 29, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Alumni News | Networking is Key for O’Connell, Working for the Savannah Bananas

Smiling Daniel Mackerty and Lizzy O'Connell in tshirts that read "Get high at the CI Athens, Ohio

Daniel Mackerty and Lizzy O’Connell

Ohio University alumni Daniel Mackerty ’13 and fiancée, Lizzy O’Connell ’14 live in Savannah, Ga., where they work for the Savannah Bananas, a baseball team in the Coastal Plain League.

Mackerty is the vice president of the team, working with local businesses, non-profits, youth organizations and schools to plan group outings and fundraisers.

He is most proud of how much the Bananas have grown in two short years. When he started in fall of 2015, the owners had just started the franchise after the local minor league team had left for Columbia, S.C.

They had four full-time staff, a small budget and very little support locally. Since then they have broken the league attendance record in 2016, broken their own record in 2017, sold out 32 straight home games, and raised over $120,000 for local non-profits and schools in the first two seasons combined.

Their staff has grown to 12 full time employees with everyone under the age of 30.

And it’s all due to high focus on community relationships, crazy entertainment and doing their best to be different and stand out.

Mackerty earned a B.A. in Sociology-Criminology from the College of Arts & Sciences, then went on to the Masters in Coaching Education at Ohio University. Although he had planned to move to Columbus after finishing his M.S., he decided to take a chance on Savannah and followed O’Connell there. She had relocated from Cincinnati for a job, after having lived in her hometown for a while after graduating with her degree in Child and Family Studies.

After spending his last summer in Athens running concessions for the Southern Ohio Copperheads, Mackerty had a notion that he would enjoy working in the sports business but had never planned on it or really studied it.

While networking in Savannah, he met the Savannah Sports Council who works through the local Chamber of Commerce to bring sports tourism to the area. After helping them with different marathons and various events, Mackerty was lucky enough to meet the owners of the Savannah Bananas who were also doing some networking in their new town. After a few interviews, he joined on as a group ticket sales coordinator.

His OHIO Experience

He says his experiences from OHIO have come full circle in Savannah, in part because he wouldn’t be working for where he is if he had not developed his networking skills at Ohio University.

During his time as a student in Athens he also learned how to step out of his comfort zone and not be afraid to take chances. He continues to use that networking experience to really impact Savannah’s local non-profit community with raising awareness and fundraising.

“Looking back,” Mackerty says, “I would give a lot of credit to my OHIO experiences. As a sophomore and junior, I was a student manager in the dining halls, which has helped me grow into a leader among my peers. The Coaching Education program really got me out of my comfort zone in regards to my professional career, and landed me as a graduate assistant at Bird Ice Arena, where I learned a ton. Lastly, my experiences working for the Southern Ohio Copperheads in my final summer really opened my eyes to other industries and ways to impact a local community like a local baseball team does!”

Mackerty and O’Connell both feel lucky to be in a place that reminds them so much of Athens. They try to get back to Athens once or twice a year to meet up with old friends, campus and where they met, The C.I.

They plan to marry in October next year in O’Connell’s hometown of Cincinnati—a celebration with plenty of Bobcats in the wedding party and on the guest list.

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