Feeling downtrodden? Uninspired? You need to meet Rob Mendez.
As documented in this terrific feature by the San Jose Mercury News, the 28-year-old Mendez has spent 10 years at five high schools in Santa Clara County as an assistant football coach. In each stop he has refused to let his limitations hold him back, which is a challenge because, well, he was born without any limbs whatsoever.
Yes, you read that correctly. Mendez has never had any limbs. He attends practices at San Jose high with the use of a specialized wheelchair. And while motivational messages are a more expected part of his forte, the coach has had a significant impact on the team’s on-field performance, too.
“I didn’t know he was going to be that good,” Kylan Harris, San Jose’s starting quarterback told the Mercury News. “He taught me better footwork. He’s good with his verbal skills.”
Another quarterback on the roster, Mike Singam, was even more explicit in his praise of Mendez’s accumen.
“Without him, I don’t think I’d have learned all those techniques,” he said. “Even though he can’t fully show you physically what to do, he teaches you in a way where you have an understanding.”
Of course, he teaches the student athletes and other coaches far more than just football maneuvers. He gives them faith and confidence in their own abilities, just as Mendez’s ability to order and receive a cup of coffee has revitalized his own confidence.
“Coach Rob has been an inspiration to the coaches,” James Rumohr, San Jose’s junior varsity head coach, told the Mercury News. “We can talk about how he’s been an inspiration to the players. But the coaches, he makes us go on a different level.”