Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect caption that has since been corrected. The first photo features Jesse Hayes, not Trevor Davidson. The Talisman regrets the error.

Belegarth is a Medieval Combat Society with Realms all across the nation. The Realm in Bowling Green is called Viridian Hills, aptly named for the rolling hills in the area. The group’s sigil is a white squirrel, which they proudly display on custom-made flags attached to their waists. The sport is a sect of live action role-playing, commonly known as LARPing, but is a bit different. Belegarth isn’t a re-enactment, nor is it an in-depth story. The primary purpose of the sport is the combat and physical contact of the fights. The group battles with foam weapons, ranging from great swords to daggers to bows and arrows. Each member has a battle name and can create a backstory if they would like, but it’s not required. Sometimes, keeping the balance between real life and fantasy is difficult, but the members of Viridian Hills say it’s all worth it.

Scroll down to meet a few members of Viridian Hills.

Jesse Hayes, 32, Bowling Green, participates in Belegarth, a medieval combat society with realms all across the nation and world. More specifically, Hayes is a part of the Bowling Green realm called Viridian Hills. Hayes also works as a Registered Nurse at The Medical Center and goes to graduate school full time. When Hayes’s sister dragged him to a practice when he was in high school, Hayes fell in love with the sport. “It’s a nice mix of athletics, but then nerdy,” said Hayes. “It hits that fantasy nerve that’s sometimes missing from real life, but it kinds of bring that to real life.” Balancing his real life and fantasy life is difficult for Hayes, since his school and career keep him busy. However, Hayes tries to make it to as many Sunday afternoon practices as he can.

Trevor Davidson, 25, of Bowling Green has been actively participating with the Bowling Green Realm, Viridian Hills, since his sophomore year at WKU. Davidson works from home for an online auto parts company and is a self-proclaimed introvert, so he relies on the group to keep him out and social, in addition to the physicality of the sport. “I don’t like interacting with people or going out a whole lot, so it’s a medium that I can meet people,” Davidson said. “It’s one of the more social aspects of my life right now.”

Machala Wells, 26, of Bowling Green has been a part of Belegarth for four years. Wells’s closest friends are in the sport with her, and she has met some friends because of it. The physicality of the sport, as well as the social aspect of it, draws her to it. The lore, character creation, outfits and events are also what she appreciates about Belegarth. “The sport in general is continuously growing,” Wells said. “It just keeps getting bigger. Every event, every year, it’s just getting bigger.” Wells also works two jobs, one at the humane society and another as a server at 643 Bar and Grill. There are numerous events that are held that members of the group go to all around the region and the country. “Belegarth is something I’m very passionate about, and something I see in my life down the road until I can’t do it anymore,” Wells said.

Vincenzo “Vinny” Fiore Favoroso, 25, of Bowling Green has been in Belegarth for nearly seven years. The sport is a big part of his life and often a source of relaxation and escape from his everyday stresses. Favoroso works at Shogun Bistro full time. “It’s just not being yourself for a little bit,” Favoroso said about Belegarth. “You’re not worried about anything else when you’re worried about not being hit by another person.”

Gene Wilson, 28, of Bowling Green has been a part of Belegarth for several years, starting in high school and then picking it back up in his adult life after a couple of years off. Wilson worked as a mechanic in a shop in Bowling Green but has since moved his mechanic work to the side in favor of a different career path. Balancing his life and the sport is sometimes cumbersome, but Wilson tries to prioritize Belegarth as much as he can. Events for the sport are often vacations for Wilson since the events sometimes require travel. “Belegarth is a sport with its own culture attached,” he said. “We have vendors, business women and men, food, goods and all sorts of things that work together to make it an experience. A Realm is your home field, your people and normally what brought you into the sport. Support your Realm, support other Realms, and the sport can only get better.”

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