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Seeking The Snitch: Quidditch In Las Vegas

The Harry Potter series of books and films brought to life a world that's, well, a bit unbelievable.

But some enterprising people have figured out how to take one of the series' enduring hallmarks -- the sport of quidditch, played on broomstick -- and adapt it in a way us muggles, or non-magical folks, can play.

And, since we live in a city that has everything, it stands to reason that Las Vegas has its own quidditch team.

Despite the lack of aerial ability in muggle quidditch (the term given to the sport to distinguish it from its literary counterpart), the matches can still get heated.

"We obviously can't fly, but it's still an incredibly competitive sport," said Ericka Phanthip, who plays for the Sin City Quid Pro Quo. "It's a combination of rugby, dodgeball and soccer all put together."

Muggle quidditch teams are made of chasers, who score points by throwing a ball called a quaffle through hoops at either end of the field; keepers, who defend those hooped goals; beaters, who throw dodgeballs called bludgers at their opponents; and a seeker, who chases after a golden snitch, portrayed by a person wearing yellow.

(Harry Potter was a seeker, in case you're trying to remember, and the snitch he went after was a small golden ball with wings.)

Players do use brooms, or broom substitutes, while playing.

"We use PVC pipes for brooms," said Bear Rich Hatch. Some people used to wear capes, he said, but that's not so much en vogue these days.

Hatch originally recruited Phanthip to playing muggle quidditch through Facebook. Phanthip said she enjoyed playing other sports, and when she realized she could play quidditch, she decided to give it a whirl.

Another member of the team, Micah Haji-Sheikh -- niece of former NFL placekicker  Ali Haji-Sheikh, who won a Super Bowl with Washington's NFL team in 1987 -- actually relocated to Las Vegas in order to play more often.

"I was playing quidditch in the Midwest, and I wanted to be in a place where there were a lot more centralized teams," she said. "I was playing outside of Chicago, and while we have a good number of teams out in the Midwest, they're a little few and far between. I wanted to be in a place where things were a little more local."

Hatch and Phanthip even competed in the recent Quidditch World Cup, hosted this year in South Carolina, as part of a Los Angeles-based team. While they didn't win, they were proud of the team's performance.

"We didn't make it past the Sweet Sixteen, but we were knocked out by the current world champions, so if anyone's going to knock us out, I'm glad it's them," said Phanthip.

(Editor's Note: This story originally aired April 2015)

Ericka Phanthip, Micah Haji-Sheikh and Bear Rich Hatch, players, Sin City Quid Pro Quo

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)