Rob Mendez was born with tetra-amelia syndrome

By Lindsay Kimble
August 28, 2019 11:00 AM
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Credit: Samsung

Nothing has ever gotten in the way of Rob Mendez and his dreams.

The California football coach, who was born without limbs, is featured in a new Samsung short film for the company’s Galaxy Note10.

“All I want to do is be great in the moment. I’m gonna go hard at whatever I do. My mind has always taught me, I’m differently-abled and I’m able to do something in a different way than you can, as well,” Mendez says in the video, before explaining how Samsung’s technology has helped improve his life.

Mendez is head of the JV Football team at Prospect High School outside of San Jose, and was honored with the Jimmy V award for perseverance at the 2019 ESPYs. He was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a congenital disorder characterized by the absence of arms and legs.

From the ESPY Awards to the new short film feature, Mendez tells PEOPLE “It’s been a humbling year.”

“Everyone has given me such good support and great feedback,” Mendez says. “Like I tell everyone when they encounter me, it’s great energy and I just love when people approach me and appreciate the message because I just feel like it’s great for everyone to hear and it’s just so humbling when they come up and congratulate me.”

Mendez says technology like the Note10 has helped make him “so independent.”

“About 15 years ago, I would never be able to read a book at the touch of a screen,” Mendez explains, adding, “And not only that, I’m able to listen to my music, I’m able to draw up my plays, I’m able to do so much with this Galaxy Note device, and I hope that people can relate to that. We all have disabilities and incapabilities, and I want people to think through things and use their minds to be able to be successful in whatever they want to do.”

And just like the advice he gives his players, Mendez encourages others who are differently-abled to “stay focused on the goal. There’s always going to be distractions in life, there’s always going to be different circumstances and different situations that you get yourself into.”

“I’ve been able to adapt into this whole different lifestyle and stay focused on coaching,” he tells PEOPLE. “I believe that when you stay focused and true to yourself, that’s really going to carry you to the next level.”

The coach hopes that his message of motivation reaches people around the world. He encourages, “focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t do.”