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      Learning to slide: Reporter learns how to play hockey

      Here in the U.P. there is never a shortage of winter sports to master. But stepping out of your comfort zone can be a challenge.

      That's exactly what I did when I stepped into some hockey gear and learned to hit the puck.

      It's easy to watch a hockey game and yell at the athletes for their shortcomings. It's much harder to be one of them. And as I entered the Berry Center in Marquette for my first lesson with the puck, I realized I wasn't born ready.

      "I don't know how to skate backwards," I exclaimed.

      After all, 30 others who come to the adult instructional league are way ahead of the game.

      "We spend a lot of time working on the fundamentals of skating so you can get from Point A to Point B on the ice and then make the plays, passes and shots," Hockey Instructor Doug Smith said.

      I learned balance is one of the most important things.

      "What most of the beginners say is, 'My mind tells me to do this, this and this but my body just can't make it happen,'" Smith said.

      I know I didn't score but my stats were good.

      "Your stats were as good as almost anybody on the ice, you were +2 today," Smith said.

      But I didn't feel like a plus at all. I knew I had to redeem myself.

      I went back for another round at hockey a week later. This time, I had the proper gear. The boys told me not to be afraid to get pushy. So I did.

      And although I didn't score yet again, I really felt like I was part of the team. I could actually go faster, I wasn't worried about falling down, paid attention, I actually knew I had teammates out there.

      "Well that's exactly how it works," Smith said.

      "The more you play, the more fun you'll have, the more opportunities you'll have to touch the puck and maybe you'll even score a goal."

      Until then I won't quit my day job.