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It's an accomplishment to the public because I have no arms and legs, but the reality is I'm not accomplished. And yeah, of course that's frustrating. I tell him that's the most honest he's been in our time together. But I don't know what else to say. For the last few minutes of our ride, we both keep quiet.

Who says I can't

When we pull into the driveway, McAvoy comes out and carries Mendez into the house. As they head inside, Mendez looks back at me over McAvoy's shoulder. This life Mendez makes a trip to a nearby shopping center for coffee. He briefly leaves Rob in the garage to run inside. Rob leans forward in his chair to reach his cell phone.

It's a move he makes countless times a day. But this time, he has no idea the belt around his waist isn't buckled. He tumbles forward. There is nothing to break his fall. He turns his face to the right, pulls his head back and prays. The left side of his face slams into the concrete floor of the garage. Bob hears the sound from a few feet away. A story building hitting the ground.

FB: Beyond the Xs & Os - Nick Petrino

I swear I buckled him in. I swear. I turned around, took two to three steps and then I heard it. It isn't the first time Rob has fallen out of his chair. It happened at the end of his senior prom, when he tipped over the wheelchair ramp as he and his classmates were leaving. His father has long wished that Rob would wear an upper belt as well as the one that wraps around his waist.

But Rob refuses because the upper belt limits his ability to access his phone and draw plays. This is one of the worst falls. Blood runs everywhere. Bob rushes his son to the hospital. Rob has fractured cheek and orbital bones and has the effects of a concussion. Doctors recommend surgery. They tell Rob he can't coach for at least four weeks. He doesn't listen. That night he can't sleep. He can barely open his mouth.

The next day he spends almost entirely in bed, unable to open his eyes. By Tuesday afternoon, he's back at Prospect for practice, apologizing to his players for Monday's absence. When his players ask what happened, he tells them he got into a fight with the pavement. Says McAvoy: "That's just him.

Why would the girls be treated any differently than the boys?

He can be stubborn. He doesn't eat right. He doesn't listen to the doctors like he should. But he's always there for the kids. He says they need him, but you know what? I think he needs them just as much.

Physically, Mendez is unlike any other high school football coach in the U. Mentally and emotionally, he's no different. And that includes getting on the officials when something doesn't go his way. It's the Friday night before Halloween. The World Series is on television. Mendez picks a spot at the bar next to two women.

Beyond X’s & O’s: Gender Bias and Coaches of Women’s College Sports

In less than a minute he introduces himself, then me and strikes up a conversation. In the morning, he will coach the biggest game of his young career.

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Some might suggest he should be home, resting. But here, he's in his element. Holding court, triggering laughs and helping people realize for a few minutes that a man in a wheelchair without arms and legs is just like anyone else.

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If I'm sitting there and don't smile or say hello, I just feel like that's rude. The season has been a greater success than Mendez could have imagined. His greatest fear was failure. But after losing the season opener to Santa Clara, his Panthers won seven games in a row. Along the way, Cable invited Mendez's two best players to move to varsity.

They chose to stay with him. In a little more than 12 hours, Prospect will play for the league JV championship. The school they will face, Ann Sobrato, fired Mendez as an assistant three years earlier. Sobrato is located across the street from his parents' home in Morgan Hill. On convenience alone, it would have been the perfect place for him to coach forever. Now comes the opportunity to prove the school made a mistake. Andre Jackson gets instructions from Mendez during the team's first game of the season.

Mendez calls his last timeout. Neither team has moved the ball all day, with the game's only points coming on a yard Sobrato field goal three minutes earlier. Prospect's lone highlight came on defense when, just before halftime, the Panthers stonewalled Sobrato on four straight plays from the goal line to keep the game scoreless. The battery on Mendez's wheelchair is dead, so two Panthers push him onto the field.

Our Mission — Flag star Football

He tells his offense he believes in them. And he calls the exact same play he did on the previous down, flipping it to the other side of the field: Rex nine left, smash. If all goes well, a receiver should be open about 15 yards downfield right in front of the Prospect sideline.

As the quarterback rolls out, the play unfolds perfectly. The receiver is open. Mendez looks up as the quarterback's pass sails overhead. His head drops. The throw is too long, and the ball harmlessly caroms out of bounds. Tears begin to fall. Mendez rolls over to his dejected quarterback.