Inside Events: Savannah Bananas Baseball Camps | Sports Destination Management

Inside Events: Savannah Bananas Baseball Camps

An Interview with Kyle Luigs, Bananas Pitcher (and Bananas Academy Instructor)
Mar 06, 2023 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Camp video

Haven’t heard of the Savannah Bananas yet? Give yourself a minute and you will. Better yet, spend that minute looking at their TikTok videos and you’ll see why this baseball team has been compared to the Harlem Globetrotters. Their sheer showmanship and fan-friendly attitude has resulted in wall-to-wall sellouts on their current tour, with families coming from hundreds of miles around to attend games. The demand is not dying back, either; last year, the Bananas played in seven cities on their world tour; this year, that number is up to 33 and next year, it’s expected to be even larger.

All that is great news for the Bananas – and for baseball in general. But it was when the Savannah Bananas announced their Bananas Academy, a mixture of different youth camps and training sessions, that SDM wanted to take a closer look.

The camps allow players from age six to thirteen to learn from the Bananas who have billed the events as “the most fun your player ever has on the baseball field.” Camps are led by Bananas players, pitcher Kyle Luigs and catcher Bill LeRoy. According to the website, the Bananas Academy gives youth players a chance to train like a Banana from the players and coaches who have won more games and had more fun than any other team in baseball. Camps are held in one-, two- and four-day formats.

Savannah Bananas
All images courtesy of the Savannah Bananas

SDM caught up with Luigs for a closer look at these events.

Sports Destination Management: How long have the Bananas Camps been around?

Kyle Luigs: We ran our first camps in the summer of 2022, and they went great. We had three camps in all that year. This year, we have 13 of them.

SDM: How are they doing, attendance-wise?

Luigs: Very, very well. I think the coolest thing for us to see is how far people are traveling to participate. Parents see a camp as a great opportunity for their kids to have an experience with us if they aren’t able to make it to a game.

SDM: What kind of travel radius are you seeing for camps?

Luigs: We are seeing people coming in from all over. Kids have come from Texas, from Chicago, from California and from a lot of other places. It’s not just the South.

SDM: Right now, all camps are held in Savannah. Are you looking to expand upon that?

Luigs: We’d like to, but we want to see if we have the bandwidth to do that. At the end of the year, we can see how we’re doing. We’re hoping to bring a few of the camps on the road in 2024. It won’t be an overwhelming number of those, though. I think we will want to know the ballpark and figure out logistically how we might be able to run a camp that morning and then play there at night.

SDM: Switching gears for a moment, what are the camps like? Are they strictly skills camps or is there fun as well?

Luigs: Oh, we make it fun for them to play. That is the reason it goes over so well. Bill and I are working these camps, and everyone else who is, is also a player. I’d say the kids make a lot of progress but it’s not your good old baseball camp. I went to my share of those, so I know. Today, there are a lot of baseball camps offered and parents will drop the kids off and sort of use the camp as a babysitting service while they go out and do other things but I’ve noticed that doesn’t happen here. Parents will stay and hang out to watch their kids, and we interact with them too.

Savannah BananasSDM: No, it definitely does not sound like a typical skills clinic.

Luigs: We put our Bananas twist on it. You can get better as a player but you’ll also have a lot of fun. Everyone picks out a nickname and they’re known by that nickname for the entire camp. We open up with “Hey Baby” to get the players to stretch, we’ll do obstacle course stuff, we’ll break up into stations, players can dance in the locker rooms like the Party Animals, we’ll have a backwards home run derby – we actually have kids playing Banana Ball.

SDM: Have you seen any kids that you think you might see in the Bananas in the future?

Luigs: That is a story we will probably be telling someday. I have seen kids who are very overqualified, kids who are light years above where I was at their age.  

SDM: If people are interested in hosting the Bananas or a Bananas Camp, how do they reach out?

Luigs: There is a form on our website; that’s the best place to get started.

SDM: One last thing. The website notes that at camps, there are special awards for things like Best Dressed, Best Dance Moves, Best Banana Ball Player Lookalike and more. Have you had anyone show up to play wearing stilts?

Luigs: We have not had anyone bring stilts yet!

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