FARGO — The Fargo Able Games had its inaugural launch pushed back a year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but Connor McGovern is hoping the all-inclusive functional fitness competition develops into a Fargo-Moorhead fixture.
The Fargo Shanley graduate who now plays for the New York Jets announced Wednesday, Feb. 24, along with Fargo's TNT Kid’s Fitness and Gymnastics, that the first Able Games is rescheduled for May 14-15 in downtown Fargo.
“We hope one day it grows into a very large competition, a whole community competition, I would like to compare it to the Fargo Marathon,” McGovern said. “I got to see that grow into something really special and something the whole community gets behind.”
The inaugural Able Games were slated for last April at Scheels Arena, but were called off due to COVID-19 concerns. The charity event is an idea McGovern and Kim Pladson, the executive director of TNT Kid’s Fitness and Gymnastics, combined to develop.
The goal of the event is to give athletes of all abilities, from highly skilled to individuals with special needs, a chance to compete side by side.
“It’s definitely disappointing that we couldn’t launch it last year, but we’re happy to find a way to get to go this year and just start somewhere,” McGovern said. “Whether it’s 100 people, 500 people, it’s good to start, good to get the organization going.”
The event is going to be held in an outdoor setting at the downtown RDO Building, which was formerly known as Block 9. McGovern along with guest NFL players and Matt Fraser, a highly decorated CrossFit athlete, are expected to take part in the event. McGovern said celebrity coaches will be finalized at a later date due to COVID-19 concerns.
“We’re still figuring that whole thing out,” McGovern said.
Pladson said the ability to hold the event outdoors was a “game-changer” in helping conduct a safe competition with COVID-19 concerns. She said the current plan is to allow 150 two-person teams (300 total athletes) for the competition, a number that could increase depending on the state’s COVID-19 risk level. Athletes can register at ablegames.org.
“I would rather be more safe,” Pladson said. “We need to find that blend to where all people feel comfortable.”
Pladson agreed with McGovern that the inaugural event is not about trying to get the largest number of athletes.
“We just want to get one under our belt and let people know what the Able Games are about,” Pladson said.
“If you’ve ever walked the Fargo Marathon, you can definitely do the Able Games,” McGovern added. “Come out and see how special these athletes are and see what they can do. … At the end of the day, it’s a fitness competition and we’ll come up with workouts that are scalable.”
McGovern, 27, recently completed his fourth season in the NFL and first with the New York Jets. The 6-foot-4, 304-pound offensive lineman signed a lucrative contract with the Jets prior to this past NFL season.
The Jets went 2-14 last season, but had back-to-back victories against the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns, two playoff teams, late in the regular season. The Jets have the No. 2 overall selection in the upcoming NFL Draft and ample salary cap space to improve their roster during this offseason.
In January, the Jets hired former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to be its new head coach.
“I know our record didn’t reflect what we wanted as an organization, but I think our team did a lot of growing,” McGovern said. “I know everybody is excited for the new coach and the new staff to come in. … They have a lot of cap space to do a lot of special things this offseason. I went there because I thought (the Jets) had some serious potential.”