NY Jets OL and Shanley graduate Connor McGovern has 'lofty dreams' for Fargo ABLE Games
The Fargo ABLE Games is moving to a larger venue for the second year of the all-inclusive functional fitness competition.
FARGO — The inaugural Fargo ABLE Games were held last spring, featuring 170 athletes competing in Broadway Square at Block 9 in downtown Fargo.
New York Jets offensive lineman Connor McGovern, who helped found the all-inclusive functional fitness competition, is expecting growth in the second year. This year's charity event is scheduled for April 9 and 10 at Veterans Memorial Arena in West Fargo.
“It should be extra good this year,” said McGovern, a Fargo Shanley graduate. “We’re really excited. We’re going to have even more athletes, more people participating, even a bigger venue.”
Kim Pladson, President/CEO of TNT Kid’s Fitness and Gymnastics in Fargo, expects the number of participants to double in Year 2.
“We hope to get into that 400 to 500 range. We hope to double it,” Pladson said. “We’re new and people are learning about what the competition is.”
The competition is similar to CrossFit and highlights the abilities of athletes from “highly skilled” to athletes with “special needs,” according to the ablegames.com website.
“You don’t need to be a CrossFit athlete to compete,” McGovern said. “Anybody can compete. Anybody can come help out and volunteer. It’s going to be a great time.”
McGovern partnered with TNT Kid’s Fitness and Gymnastics to create the event in which McGovern has big aspirations for the future.
“Once it gets as big as Fargo can hold, then we can have a Fargo one, move it to different cities and have multiple a year,” McGovern said. “It’s Year 2 and we’ve got some lofty dreams and goals, but we’re off to a great start. We’re excited for this year.”
The company that helps run the Granite Games in Eagan, Minn., and Wodapalooza in Miami are going to assist with the ABLE games in its second year.
“Their team is coming up here to run the ABLE games and help it grow,” Pladson said.
“Growing the aspect of a competition with how you handle the in-between periods, the logistics of a competition is where we’re looking to take the next step,” McGovern added.
Matt Fraser, a multiple-time CrossFit Games champion, and Jenn and Sam Dancer, both high-level CrossFit athletes, are also slated to return for Year 2. They were also part of the first ABLE games. McGovern said other celebrity guests, like NFL players, will be finalized at a later date. Last spring Carolina Panthers wide receiver Brandon Zylstra, who played for the Concordia Cobbers, was among the celebrity guests.
“We’re getting really close to having our final list of celebrity guests,” McGovern said. “I thought Year 1 went better than expected. The competition itself was awesome. I think it exceeded everyone’s expectations.”
Pladson said there are around 200 scholarships available for athletes with special needs to cover the entry fee. For Grades 7-12 the athlete with special needs and a peer are eligible for scholarships. For adults, the athlete with special needs is eligible. The competition consists of two-person teams.
“They should reach out to TNT if that’s a barrier for them,” Pladson said of the cost. “We have scholarships to support athletes.”
The 6-foot-4, 306-pound McGovern is entering his third season with the Jets. The Denver Broncos drafted McGovern, who played at the University of Missouri, in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. McGovern, who starts at center for the Jets, has been rehabbing this offseason from a knee injury that did not require surgery. He will be ready for the start of the upcoming season.
“It’s what I love to do,” McGovern said. “I’m just as hungry as I ever was. There’s still a lot of goals out there that I have that I want to accomplish.”
Cooking is another one of McGovern’s loves and he recently appeared on the “Rachael Ray Show” for a “Super Bowl Recipe Playoff.”
“That was really cool,” McGovern said. “I got to go on there and cook a little bit. I love to cook so it was cool to meet her. My mom was always a fan of hers, still is, watches her show and has all of her cookbooks. It was really cool. It was a really fun experience.”
McGovern said the Fargo-Moorhead community helped him in his professional success and that’s why for him it is important to help with an event like the ABLE games.
“Fargo itself helped me get to this place and be in the NFL,” McGovern said. “Everybody I came in contact with helped me get to this place. The community itself I think was a very special place to grow up. … Every time I come back it looks so different and you can just see the growth so I’m happy to give back in any way I can.”