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This year’s June 6 Guppy Fest, a youth rally with its roots in Denver’s World Youth Day 1993, featured a talk and Q-and-A with Jack Del Rio, defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos. When asked if there were any questions hands shot up in the air.

“Can I have your playbook?” one youth asked.

“You can have the playbook of life,” Del Rio responded matter-of-factly. “Read the Bible.”

Del Rio, 51, joined the Broncos’ staff in 2012 after coaching the Jacksonville Jaguars 2003-2011. He spent 11 years playing linebacker in the National Football League.

Raised Catholic, he explained to the 300 middle- and high-school students gathered how he fell away from the Church during his teenage years, then reverted back as an adult through his marriage to wife of 27 years, Linda, and the influence of former NFL player and coach Danny Abramowicz who connected Del Rio with a priest in New Orleans for spiritual guidance when both were on the coaching staff of the Saints (read “Defending the goal” in the Oct. 23, 2013 Denver Catholic Register).

Del Rio also spoke on the impact of making promises and keeping them. When the subject turned to the Super Bowl and the Broncos’ 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, he kept his cool.

“What does it feel like to lose the Super Bowl?” someone asked.

“Next question,” Del Rio countered quickly but after a brief pause added lightheartedly: “But I forgive you.”

The event held at St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial was themed “Grace upon Grace.” It also featured break-out sessions led by area youth ministers, Mass celebrated by pastor Father Andrew Kemberling, games, skits, discussion, food, and was topped off with a DJ and dance.

“It was a lot of fun!” said Quinn Filby, 10, a sixth-grader at St. Thomas More School. “We learned a lot about grace and how we all need grace to exist; it gives us our talents and gifts.

“That’s cool because it’s connected to everything we have,” he added.

“It was a great day, the teens were really excited,” said David Tschumper, director of youth ministry of the parish and longtime Guppy Fest coordinator. “We look forward to hosting again next year.”

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