Former Cobbers WR Zylstra, CrossFit legend among celebrities expected at inaugural Fargo Able Games

The Fargo Able Games are slated for May 14-15 in downtown Fargo, set to be the premiere for the all-inclusive functional fitness competition.

Connor McGovern, a Fargo Shanley graduate and an offensive lineman for the New York Jets, is one of the driving forces behind the Fargo Able Games, which are expected to premiere later this month. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO — Former Concordia Cobbers wide receiver Brandon Zylstra is expected to be among the professional athletes planning to take part in the inaugural Fargo Able Games later this month.

The charity event is an all-inclusive functional fitness competition, similar to CrossFit, and is scheduled for May 14-15 in Broadway Square at Block 9 in downtown Fargo.

Zylstra is a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers.

“I can’t thank Brandon enough,” said Connor McGovern, a New York Jets offensive lineman and Fargo Shanley graduate. “He was happy to come and give back anyway he can locally. It will be awesome.”


Former Concordia Cobbers and Carolina Panthers wide receiver Brandon Zylstra (16) is scheduled to be one of the NFL players at the Fargo Able Games scheduled for May 14-15, 2021, in downtown Fargo. Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

McGovern has paired with TNT Kid’s Fitness and Gymnastics in Fargo for the event that highlights the abilities of athletes from "highly skilled" to those with "special needs," according to the website. The event was initially slated to launch last spring, but was pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It’s been two years in the making,” McGovern said. “It’s definitely been building for a long time.”

Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Matt Paradis and NFL free agent offensive lineman Evan Boehm are also expected to attend the Able Games, pending NFL commitments. McGovern added Jets offensive linemen Conor McDermott and Greg Van Roten could also make an appearance at the event.

“It’s definitely more of a role of shaking hands and swapping stories and having fun,” McGovern said.

Matt Fraser, a multiple-time CrossFit Games champion, and Jenn and Sam Dancer, who are both high-level CrossFit athletes, are also scheduled to participate in the Able Games.

“Having some star power like Matt Fraser come in is huge. He’s going to probably go down in history as the best CrossFit athlete to live,” McGovern said. “The Dancers have done a ton in this area and I have become friends with them throughout the years.”

Kim Pladson, executive director of TNT Kid’s Fitness and Gymnastics, said registration for the event closed Sunday, May 2, and that 75 teams, comprised of 150 competitors, are set for the event.


“I think it’s going to bring some fun energy to downtown Fargo,” Pladson said. “We encourage people to come and watch and be a part of it. … Our goal is that this will be a very large event at some point in time.”

There is a celebrity workout scheduled for Friday, May 14, open to all levels for $30 per person that people can register for at Opening ceremonies are also slated for May 14. Competition starts at 9 a.m. May 15. There is an admission charge for adults ($15) and students in K-12 (5$) and children 5 and under get in free. The awards ceremony is slated for May 15.

Pladson said a 105-foot tent will be set up in Broadway Square and fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Check the website for updates on public health and mask requirements for the event.

"People are still a little bit shy of being in groups," Pladson said, referring to COVID-19. "Thankfully it’s outside and things like that."

Pladson added McGovern has been one of the driving forces behind the Able Games.

“He has such a passion to compete and he wants, no matter who you are, to feel that same passion and have an opportunity. It’s just a testament to the athletes that he’s bringing,” Pladson said. “You can be an NFL player and be an Able Games athlete with special needs and you still love to compete and you’re still going to give 100%.”

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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