FARGO — New York Jets offensive lineman Connor McGovern was excited to see the inaugural Fargo Able Games are coming to fruition in downtown Fargo.
“It’s been something that’s pretty special for a lot of people. To have it this year and to get it going has been awesome,” McGovern said Thursday night at the RDO Building. “It is surreal to do this. It took a lot of people to get here, it took a lot of time, it took a lot of effort so it is truly special that we’re finally here.”
The Able Games are an all-inclusive fitness competition, similar to CrossFit, and runs Friday and Saturday in Broadway Square at Block 9. The charity event was supposed to launch last spring, but had to be pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been an awesome experience so far,” McGovern said. “We really wanted to get this going last year, but with everything going on we had to hold off a year.”
McGovern paired with TNT Kid’s Fitness and Gymnastics in Fargo for the Able Games, that highlights the abilities of athletes from a wide-range of skill levels.
“The Able Games was started as a way to show everybody the abilities of everybody, whether if you have special needs or you’re a CrossFit champion, this even allows everybody to come together in one spot and to show your ability,” said McGovern, a Fargo Shanley graduate.
The opening ceremonies are slated for 5 p.m. Friday with the first event scheduled to start at 5:20 p.m. Competition starts at 9 a.m. Saturday. Admission for the event is $15 for adults (18-and-older) and $5 for students K-12 and seniors. Children under 5 are free.
The event features 160 athletes that make up 80 two-person teams. CrossFit athletes Matt Fraser and Jenn and Sam Dancer, and NFL players Brandon Zylstra, Matt Paradis and Evan Boehm are all scheduled to be part of the event. Zylstra, who now plays for the Carolina Panthers, is a former Concordia Cobbers wide receiver.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, McGovern said that made it more difficult to get other NFL players to commit to the Able Games this spring, but that could change as the event grows.
“I think every year it is going to get bigger and bigger and more special,” McGovern said.
The 6-foot-4, 306-pound McGovern played for the Jets last season after three seasons with the Denver Broncos to start his NFL career. The Jets hired Robert Saleh as their new head coach this offseason. They also drafted Brigham Young quarterback Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall in the most recent NFL Draft.
McGovern started all 16 games last season for the Jets, who posted a 2-14 record.
“I really think we’re turning it around,” McGovern said. “I really do think the rebuilding phase is coming to a peak and it’s time to really show the growth.”
The 6-foot-2, 214-pound Wilson is one of the reasons McGovern likes the direction of the franchise.
“He seems like a special kid,” McGovern said. “He’s got the raw talent to be something special in the NFL. He’s got the mindset, he’s got the ability.”
McGovern is also impressed with Saleh, who was the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator before he took the job as Jets head coach.
"He’s a fantastic guy," McGovern said. "I think he’s the leader of men that the Jets need. I think he’s going to be one of the biggest parts of the rebuild phase."