Breakfast With Northampton's Champs. 1996 Softball Squad Depicted On Cereal Box

Posted: May 29, 1997

Team Cheerios are selling fast in Northampton, a town of 9,000 about 70 miles northeast of Philadelphia. Eleven members of the 1996 Northampton High championship softball team are pictured on the back of the box.

Northampton was one of four teams chosen nationwide for the promotion, which began last summer with Olympians at the Atlanta Games featured on breakfast cereal boxes. (General Mills makes Wheaties and Cheerios.)

Beth Kim, a marketing consultant for General Mills, said a search began eight months ago for high school teams. ``We wanted to emphasize teamwork and tell the stories of those teams,'' Kim said.

Selected were the Lewisville (Texas) Fighting Farmers football team (15-0); the Westminster Christian School Warriors baseball team (36-0) of Miami; the Oregon City (Ore.) Pioneers girls' basketball team (26-0); and Northampton.

Below the team pictures is a short description of their seasons. Northampton won a PIAA Class AAA championship in a 26-1 season last spring.

The Konkrete Kids - that's the nicknames for all of the school's sports teams - put together five one-run wins during the state tournament.

``That team truly exemplified team spirit,'' Northampton coach Debbie Anthony said. ``It was an entire team effort. Every player on the team had a huge part in our success.''

Not every player made it to the cereal box, though. Only underclassmen on last year's squad appear. And Anthony - who snapped the girls' picture with a borrowed camera after General Mills called to say it needed one in a hurry - is absent.

``It doesn't bother me,'' Anthony said, ``but my family and friends were asking why not.''

Northampton athletic director Mike Schneider said General Mills offered to pay for the use of the photo, but he declined.

``We took nothing from them because it could have infringed on the college eligibility of last year's seniors,'' Schneider said. ``We didn't want any kind of questions.''

Team Cheerios first appeared on store shelves in Northampton on May 13. That day, more than 1,200 students, faculty members and others in the community jammed Northampton Junior High, where the new box was unveiled.

``At a store near the school, they had 300 boxes, and within an hour they were gone,'' said Kristy Gesto, a Northampton senior centerfielder pictured on the box. ``I finally found a place to buy some. I bought eight boxes.''

And somebody had a sense of history: A box of Team Cheerios now sits in the school's trophy case.

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