The Harry Potter series is an escape from reality. Giants ... check. Wizards ... check. Flying broomsticks ... definitely check. It's such a world that it even has its own escape, a sport known as quidditch.
In the game, players soar around the field on flying brooms. Chasers pass the quaffle back and forth while beaters bat the bludgers at the opposing team and the seeker hunts the snitch. (In case the Harry Potter lingo is lost on you: The quaffle is the game ball, bludgers are bewitched cannonballs designed to knock a player into oblivion, and the snitch is a flying golden golf ball with angelic wings.)
Why am I telling you what 400 million international readers already know?
Because quidditch is no longer something found only in J.K. Rowling's books. Quidditch is real.
The Colorado Quidditch League, created by 28-year-old Springs resident Erynn Kerwin and 26-year-old Denver resident Samantha Rose, is a growing group of some 20 people that play a Muggle (non-magical person) version of the game.
Rose and Kerwin started playing quidditch at a Harry Potter symposium in 2006. When they're not attending lectures, wizard-wannabes at these gatherings participate in quidditch matches. After attending a few symposiums, Rose and Kerwin decided to start their own league.
"I was tired of playing just once a year," says Rose. "I wanted to play all the time."
Right ... but, um ... the flying?
You guessed it. There is none. The game is adapted to function without magic.
Muggle quidditch lifts many of its rules straight from the books. There are seven players to each team: three chasers, two beaters, a keeper and the seeker.
"Our particular version is a combination between ultimate frisbee, lacrosse and soccer," says Rose.
Similar to ultimate, chasers can pivot their feet, but can't take a step while in possession of the quaffle. They must pass that small soccer ball back and forth to advance downfield. To score, chasers throw the quaffle through one of the opposing team's goals, any of three hula hoops standing on posts between 4 and 6 feet tall. But the chasers can be frozen for 10 seconds if they're struck by Nerf-ball bludgers, which the beaters fire at them with lacrosse sticks.
Another runner typically enters 15 minutes into the game with the snitch, a small ball, in hand. The snitch-runner can do anything to avoid capture, even run off the field. The seeker who wrestles the snitch from the snitch-runner's grasp earns an extra hundred points for his or her team and ends the game.
Quidditch teams are sprouting up in Ohio and Florida. An Intercollegiate Quidditch League even features teams from more than 10 colleges and universities including Middlebury, Vassar and the University of Washington. For their part, Kerwin and Rose hope to form full teams in Denver, Castle Rock and Colorado Springs.
"It just keeps getting bigger," says Rose. "The moment you say 'quidditch,' people get interested."
So there it is: Muggle quidditch. No magic, no wands, no 50-foot falls from flying broomsticks, but just as badass.
"It can get pretty violent," says Rose. "I'm a Slytherin through and through."