The Cleats In The Basement: A Youth Soccer Horror Story

The spookiest time of the year is fast approaching.

My mom still despises me for choosing to be a goalkeeper. On top of smelly cleats, shin guards and socks, I add the horrendous smelling gloves to boot. In an effort to counteract the stench of my gear she has me store all of the belongings in a box downstairs during the offseason.

I guess it’s a bit of a win-win situation. She’s too scared to venture to the basement due to the slim chance of seeing a mouse, spider, ant or anything else alive that isn’t human. While it’s a slight nuisance to have to keep my stuff down there, she at least doesn’t pester me about the smell.

At the beginning of my team’s new season, I was unfortunately clapped with a chronic case of the sniffles. In reality it was a nasty run-in with strep throat that sidelined me for all of training leading up to the first game. 

Thankfully, our backup goalkeeper Chuck is an incompetent nincompoop who would rather kick dandelions than kick a ball. My coach thanked his lucky stars that I was able to start because Chuck couldn’t make a save for his life.

On the day of the season opener my mom and I were classically running late like we always seem to do. I just wish we would leave as early for my soccer games as we do when we have a flight to catch at 6 p.m. I mean seriously, why is it that parents get to the airport nine hours before boarding? 

Anyways, getting to the game was a stress-filled nightmare. My mom has an undeclared war against technology and refuses to refer to Apple Maps or Google Maps for directions. Instead she prints out the directions beforehand and ends up getting lost about 80 percent of the time. In my mind she may as well be using a sextant for celestial navigation.

When we finally arrived at the fields I sprinted over to my team with my box of stinking goalkeeper gear and quickly got ready. The teams were practically taking the field when I showed up and I was forced to dress quickly. On top of everything going wrong my damn sock had a massive hole that my big toe poked through.

My team got the game underway and were all over our opponents. The first five minutes was spent entirely in the other team’s half. 

Then I felt something. My foot was itching. This wasn’t a normal itch, it was all over my foot and moving up my leg. With no immediate danger to my goal I quickly removed my cleat to inspect if I had a loose thorn or something in my shoe. How I wish it was a thorn.

Upon removing my shoe I saw them. Hundreds and hundreds of tiny spiders using my cleat as a home. To my horror, a mamma spider decided that my cleat was the perfect place to hide her egg sacs. The baby spiders scurried all over my foot and had infiltrated the hole in my sock and began moving up my shin guard. 

I shrieked and bolted for my Gatorade bottle lying next to the goal. I desperately attempted to use the bottle like a firehouse to spray off the thousands of little legs crawling over my phalanges.

The situation was only exacerbated when I heard my team shrieking my name. I whipped around to see my opponents had a breakaway and were charging straight at my unattended goal. In a panic I dropped my shoe and awkwardly jumped back into position but was too late. Much like I had gifted the spiders a new home, I gave away the easiest goal my opponents had ever scored.

I was eventually able to get rid of most of the arachnids but the damage had already been done. Not only would my team end up losing 1-0, but I also didn’t even get bit to become the next Spiderman.

Needless to say, my mom and I don’t go in the basement anymore unless it’s an emergency, and I have self diagnosed myself with arachnophobia.

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