14 August

Without Arms or Legs, Coach Rob Mendez Redefines What Is Possible

Jimmy V ESPY Award Winner Mendez’s Upcoming Book WHO SAYS I CAN’T? Slated for September 7, 2021 Release

Harper Horizon has secured the rights to publish and distribute Who Says I Can’t? by high school football coach Rob Mendez, winner of the 2019 Jimmy V ESPY Award for Perseverance. Part memoir and part motivational speech, Who Says I Can’t? chronicles Mendez’ journey through the challenges of tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare congenital disorder that prevents the formation of limbs during embryonic development, to become a winning high school football coach and inspirational role model. The book, represented by Frank Weimann at Folio Literary Management and acquired by Andrea Fleck-Nisbet, publisher for Harper Horizon, hits stores on September 7, just in time for the 2021 American football season.

coach rob mendez

After receiving national attention from an ESPN feature story in February 2019, Mendez started using the hashtag #WhoSaysICant, a phrase he commonly uses to inspire his players, to push others to follow their dreams. As Mendez puts it, “Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t… who says I can’t… NOBODY!” Recently, he’s been transitioning the hashtag to #WhoSaysWeCant,” as an awareness and fundraising campaign for COVID-19 relief.

“Coach Rob exemplifies the power of the human spirit to radically and positively transform lives and reimagine the definition of what is possible. His story reaches beyond athletics and aligns perfectly with the mission of Harper Horizon as we seek to highlight voices of courage and faith,” said Andrea Fleck-Nisbet. “We are honored to publish his book and join the #WhoSaysICant movement.

Mendez is not only the most unique high school football coach in America, he’s one of the most unique humans in the world. According to the biography of Nick Vujicic, a 36-year-old motivational speaker from Australia who also has tetra-amelia, there are only seven known people living today with the syndrome. Despite his rare diagnosis, Mendez does not think of himself as a football coach without limbs—he is, simply, a football coach.

“Complaining is my number one poison. So, I try to stay positive. You hear stories about people with cancer, fighting for their lives. I’m fighting to have something to drink. To feel comfortable. So, I try not to complain,” states Mendez. “You know how Ironman gets in his suit and he just starts flying everywhere? That’s how I feel in my chair. It gives me this sense of independence.”

With this mental approach and unrelenting work ethic, Mendez ascended on the national stage through an ESPN story and documentary as the head coach of Prospect High School’s junior varsity football team. Mendez established a unifying culture with his team, leading them to their first winning season in years. For his efforts, he won the 2019 Jimmy V ESPY Award for Perseverance.

In the last year, Mendez has garnered an increased amount of attention. It’s not uncommon for him to receive letters of affirmation from students across the country as well as tweets of encouragement from a few of today’s top celebrity sports celebrities. He’s been featured in a number of media outlets including ESPN, the NFL Network, and USA Today, invited as the keynote speaker for multiple sporting, youth, and corporate events, and met some of the most recognizable name in sports today, including Justin Verlander, Aaron Rogers, and Jared Goff. While the spotlight is somewhat disorienting for Mendez, he is humbled to be in a position to help others who are struggling to overcome all manner of hardships.

Who Says I Can’t? is his debut book. For more from Mendez, follow him on Instagram or Twitter (@coachrobmendez) and visit his website at www.coachmendez.com.  

Harper Horizon is a Nashville-based imprint within HarperCollins Focus, publishing nonfiction literature across a number of categories including self-help, memoir, health and wellness, cooking, and other inspirational topics that reflect the values and cultural diversity of America’s Heartland. Harper Horizon exists to empower the minds of readers to all things possible, whether that is learning a new skill, building community, improving the environment, or having the courage to embody their beliefs. Learn more at www.harper-horizon.com

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