BYU sports publicist retires after historic 41 years

BYU Photo
Ralph Zobell accepts a jersey at his last baseball game as an SID. Zobell is retiring after 41 years at BYU. (BYU Photo)

BYU football did the unexpected in 1984 and brought home a national championship. In 1990, Ty Detmer won the Heisman trophy. BYU baseball even sat atop the national ranking for a short time.

What do all these events have in common? Ralph Zobell.

Zobell has worked at BYU for 41 years, and this will be his last year. The above accomplishments were some of Zobell’s pinnacle moments over the span of his 41-year tenure.

Zobell has worked as a sports information director and media relations director for many different sports. Although Zobell spent his entire professional career doing things he loves, the job had its costs.

“My experience has included a lot of love,” Zobell said. “It has also included an impressive amount of hours and lots of heartache.”

There were other opportunities for Zobell throughout his career. Weber State and Boise State came knocking and offered him a job.

Working in one place for 41 years could wear anybody out, but not Zobell. He explained his appreciation for and thrived off the security of his BYU job. He was not in search of fame or fortune, only success and the excitement of a new season every year.

Downtown Athletic Club of New York
Ralph Zobell, left, is with Ty Detmer (center) after Detmer received the Heisman Trophy. This was one of the pinnacle events of Zobell’s 41-year career. (Downtown Athletic Club)

“Now that I am coming to the end of my career, it feels like I have lost, but I have won. My next year will be different,” Zobell said. “There is always an excitement to a new year, but I will come back in a different way next year.”

Zobell said it is the excitement of a new season kept him going in the most difficult of times.

“The job is always easier when we win,” Zobell said. “Remembering what I learned from LaVell — don’t get too low after a loss or too high after a win.”

After 41 years at one school, Zobell said he will have to learn how to be a fan.

“I won’t be able to do as many things as before,” Zobell said. “I have only sat in a press box, and we can’t yell there.”

The final token Zobell said he wants to leave with the school is the importance of always doing missionary work, even if it is small. Zobell makes a directory for his neighborhood for new people that move in.

The directory contains information about ward members and all the necessities to make moving into the neighborhood easier. It helps those who do not have the church to settle in.

Zobell said even though this may be a small effort, it can have a large impact on all his new neighbors. He also said he wants everyone to work their hardest, even if it’s behind the scenes.

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