Hoffman And Cass: We Do!
Drafted ninth overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft, Ebony Hoffman has become a fixture during four seasons with the Fever. After intermittent play as a rookie, she appeared in 33 games in 2005 before starting 33 games in 2006 with career highs of 6.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Last summer, with the roster addition of Tammy Sutton-Brown and Alison Bales, Hoffman’s minutes dipped slightly – but her versatility grew – and she was one of seven players to appear in every regular season game.
She committed herself to the Indiana franchise, and a year ago bought a house in Indianapolis with her longtime fiancé Ronald Cass. Together, they have been a couple for more than seven years, dating to the evening they met with friends for a late night pickup game of hoops near their homes in Los Angeles. Ebony was then playing on the USC women’s team. Ron played for the Compton College men’s team.
They have been inseparable ever since. Ron, recently named the 7th grade girls basketball coach at Raymond Park Middle School in Indianapolis, is often as visible around the Fever franchise as his new bride. They were married last month on a cliff overlooking the ocean in San Pedro, Calif. Tamika Catchings was the Maid of Honor.
Because of her winter overseas last winter, and the immediate transition to the Fever season last summer, Hoffman’s mother, Marsha, planned most of the wedding with many of the fine details unknown to her daughter. Marsha and Floyd Hoffman gave away their daughter on Oct. 20, 2007, to the son of Andrea and Ronald Cass II.
Upon their return to Indianapolis, the glowing couple sat down to tell their story in a conversation with FeverBasketball.com. A photo gallery is forthcoming.
FeverBasketball.com: What is different now, than before Oct. 20?
Ebony: “Emotionally, we’re closer. I mean, we were already as close as you could get. We were together for almost 8 years. This was the next stop in our life, to just grow together. Definitely, that has happened. It’s been lovely. The showering of everybody’s thoughts has been wonderful. We want to do it again.”
Ron: “I’ll do it again tomorrow!”
Ron: “It was beautiful, from her dress to my all-black Polo tux, a Rolls Royce for me and my groomsmen, we had 18 doves to release, we had a water ceremony in which our clear glasses of water turned into a blue fountain.”
Ebony: “Two souls emerging together, coming as one,” describing the intent of the water ceremony.
Ebony: “It was on the beach in San Pedro, Calif. The weather was about 75 degrees, absolutely amazing. We were actually looking out over a cliff with the ocean as the horizon, and a few sailboats in the background. It was amazing. It was first class, absolutely amazing ---- I’m paying for it now, but it was breathtaking. I’d do it all over again!
“When I came down the aisle, 18 doves flew out in front of me. At the end, we each held a dove to symbolize our life growing together … and we let them go, symbolizing two birds flying off to their new lives together, away from the nest.”
FB: Ron, talk about her dress, in your words.
Ron: “It was beautiful. She got it in Spain. But it was heavy, I don’t know how she wore it around all day, it probably weighed 10-15 pounds. It was beautiful, lace, with jewels in it.”
Ebony: “It had Swarovski crystals on the front. It was strapless, with the crystals on the front with a long, long train. It was absolutely amazing. I got it in Spain. Katie [Douglas] helped me when we were teammates (last winter).
“We were in Spain and I hung out with Katie a lot. I was talking to her and kept saying, “I need to hurry up and find a dress.” She said, well, “hey, we’re in Spain, we might as well just go.” We were on the streets after playing Salamanca, going through every dress shop. We found the one and we brought it back.
“The wedding, all around, it was like a fairy tale. When Ronald drove up in a Rolls Royce, I was like – “what’s that all about??”
Ron: “My groomsmen were all in white, like ivory, kind of matching what Ebony had on. Tamika and the two other bridesmaids had on chocolate-colored strapless dresses.”
FB: What was Tamika’s role in the wedding? And was she on foot or on crutches?
Ebony: [Laughing] “She was on both! She was on boots, obviously. She was the Maid of Honor. She made sure that everybody was always present and participating. There was a week’s worth of stuff. It lasted for seven days, there were all sorts of activities. People came from out of town and all over the country.”
FB: Were there any other WNBA players?
Ebony: “Linda [Fröhlich] was there (she resides in the L.A. area). Some of my college teammates were there. Most everybody in the WNBA was overseas, but I talked to a lot of people. Tully called me the day of the wedding. I talked to Tammy two days before. I talked to Whit and Kasha the day of. Loree Moore was a teammate of mine in high school and she called me, and Lisa Willis who I also played with in high school.”
Ron: “Probably seeing her coming down the aisle. I hadn’t seen her all day. When I saw her, I got overwhelmed with emotion and started tearing up. Having not seen her, and then to see her in that dress walking down the aisle – that was it!”
Ebony: “I think the First Dance. It was my favorite part – just being able to be next to him again. There were 280 people. From the time we said the “I Do’s,” we were being pulled apart. Everybody taking pictures and everybody pulling us this way and that way … my culmination was that first dance. That was my favorite part.
“But I’ll tell you about the funniest part!!
“The funniest part of the day was when the preacher was asking Ronald, ‘Do you take Ebony to be your lawfully wedded wife …’
“He was getting ready to finish the rest of his sentence and Ronald just blurts out, ‘I Do!’
The preacher says, like, ‘well, now, wait a minute, let me finish …,’ and Ronald said again, ‘I Do, let’s go!’
[both continue laughing, recalling the moment]
Ron: “He paused! I thought he was waiting on an answer.”
Ebony: “He (the preacher) paused to take a little breath!,” she exclaimed. Laughing, she continued, “Ronald said later, ‘I thought that was a period, I thought he was finished.’ He just couldn’t wait!” Now mocking and teasing her husband, she continued – “I Dooo!”
Ron: “I was nervous. All I know is I’m supposed to say ‘I do.’ He said ‘Do you?,’ so I said, ‘I do.’ I was ready, let’s go, I do!”
[clearing my own eyes, laughing and listening to them]
FB: You’ve been together for 7 ½ years now, and lived together in Indianapolis for four years. What do you hope to be different in your lives now?
Ron: “I’d like for us never to stay the same. Keep growing as a couple. Always find new ways to be with each other and keep growing together.’
Ebony: “Growing together rather than growing apart. We see a lot of our friends who seem to grow tired of each other after awhile. We don’t understand that because we just want to be around each other all the time. We have so much fun together. Every day is new. We have our ups and downs, sure, but we’re growing with each other and that’s all that we want to do.”
FB: What was the first thought going through your head after finally finishing the I Do’s and kissing the bride?
Ron: “‘It’s for life.’ When she was coming down the aisle, I was, like, ‘this is for real. This is it. This is serious. You can’t just turn around and run and hide, this is it! Wow, Ronald, you’ve grown! You’re in this for life!’ That’s what was going on in my mind.”
Ebony: “‘I can’t believe my last name is Cass. I’m a Cass.’”
FB: That was really your thought?
Ebony: “Yeah, I’m Ebony Cass. I’m starting a new life. That old chapter of my life is gone. I’m Ebony Cass.”
Ebony: “I honestly haven’t decided, if it’s going to be Hoffman-Cass or if it’s going to be Cass. The only reason I’m juggling with it is that it’s a business decision. Fans and people in the game know me as Hoffman. Business-wise, I’m Hoffman, I always have been. It’s how I’ve made any name for myself.
FB: At least the new name is short enough, you could comfortably fit both names. Ron, do you have an opinion on this?
Ron: “I would like her to probably go as Hoffman-Cass. I don’t really want her to go only as Cass, because I know people don’t know her as that. I understand the business side of it. I know who she is, nothing’s gonna bother me. I wouldn’t mind Hoffman-Cass. She worked hard for her name. That name’s carried her. Whatever she’s comfortable with.”
FB: Ebony, Tell us about the rock on your finger.
Ebony: “He surprised the …. out of me. I thought we’d decided we were just going to do our bands. But then he came out with this thing. I was like woooowwwww! It’s amazing. He picked it out himself. He knows what I like, and that’s exactly why we get along.”
Ron: “I’ve been saving for awhile, probably about three years. I told her years ago, ‘I’m going to get you a ring. It’s going to take me awhile, but I’m going to make it count.”
Ebony: “I totally forgot about it.”
Ron: “I made it count. It took some time. My biggest thing was I wanted to make her happy.”
FB: Tell the proposal story again.
Ebony: “We were in Lithuania, and he had asked me to come outside to take the trash out with him. Mind you, it’s negative TEN outside! We went outside and I followed him out. We were on our way back and he stopped to tie his shoe. I’m facing the other way and I turned back wondering what was taking so long … and there he is, on his knee, and he proposed in the freezing cold in Lithuania. In Vilnius!”
Ron: (grinning) “I had to be a little different!”
FB: Where did you come up with that idea?
Ron: “It was on the fly. Her dad was in Lithuania, too, and I wanted to ask his permission for his daughter’s hand. After that, we happened to be taking out the trash and I knew she wouldn’t be thinking anything about getting married. I wanted to be different. I had to surprise her.
“We were already in another country. I could take that as an opportunity. When I flew over there, I knew what I was going to do, I just didn’t know how or when. I knew she didn’t want to do it in the gym, or do it during a Fever game. I didn’t want her to be embarrassed. It was just me, her and her dad, after one of her games. I talked to her dad at halftime. When we got back home that night, that’s when I did it.”
FB: Did you win the game that night, Eb?
Ebony: “Of course! We won by about 40.”
FB: So, at what point does the family begin to grow?
Ebony: “Not anytime soon! I still have stuff I want to do. We both do. We’ve both talked about not starting a family until after we’re ready. We both have goals and things we want to do, and it’s not time yet to start thinking about a family. It’s going to be a little while before you see a little Ebony or a little Ronald! There may not be a little Ronald at all! He’s already Ronald III!”
Ron and Ebony, thank you for your time, and thank you for your laughter. FeverBasketball.com and the Fever organization wish you much success and happiness in your new life!