Danielle McCray: Disney Imagineer In Training

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Danielle Mcray has high aspirations both on and off the court.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Danielle Mcray has high aspirations both on and off the court.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Dec. 13, 2013

When one first meets Ole Miss junior forward, Danielle McCray, you would probably classify her as quiet, possibly even shy.  She certainly won't win a contest for the loudest member of the Rebel basketball team, but she might have the most interesting career choice of anyone on the Ole Miss women's basketball team. McCray, an art major, has her sights on becoming a Disney Imagineer.

According to the Walt Disney website this is the description of an Imagineer:

"There's no such thing as "thinking too big" at Walt Disney Imagineering. This is where you can dream up your wildest ideas and join forces with world-class experts to make them a reality. Our ultimate goal is to leave our guests in awe, while inspiring the next generation of Imagineers to ask, "How can I do that some day?"

With more than 140 disciplines in the arts, sciences and technical fields, you'll have the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and diverse people in the entertainment industry on a wide variety of projects.

For those that still don't quite know what an Imagineer is, they are the folks behind all of the amusement park rides, animation, and special effects at Disneyland and Disneyworld. Essentially, McCray wants to be a part of the Disney team that leaves visitors to the Disney Parks and resorts amazed.

To be clear, becoming a Disney Imagineer is no easy feat, you have to be at the top of your game and even then it's a tough field to break into, but McCray has had her sights set on working for Disney for quite some time.

"I've always wanted to be an animator at Pixar," said McCray. "But since I started taking a sculpture class I really enjoyed it and thought my interests might change. I think it would be cool to see one of my designs become something in a theme park."

Being an art major and a student-athlete can be fairly time consuming. Art majors don't have assignments they have projects. Big projects that require lots of work and time outside of the classroom, time that McCray has learned to manage with her extremely busy basketball schedule.

"We don't get little assignments," said McCray. "We get big projects that typically take two-three weeks to complete and they are very time consuming. We're in class for two hours and 45 minutes and then outside of class our instructors want us to work six hours a week and that's just in order to just be average and get your work done. If you want an A, you've got to work more than that."

Now imagine all that with the addition of basketball practices, weights, games, road trips - that's McCray's life. Although it can be challenging at times, she's found a way to balance everything.

"I take it little by little," said McCray. "Whenever I have some free time or whenever I'm in the mood to draw, I do. One of my art teachers told me to always keep a pen and paper with you to draw.  So for me I often end up drawing buses, teammates and things in the locker room and gym!"

For as dedicated as McCray is to her future career as an Imagineer she's equally dedicated to her role as a member of the Ole Miss women's basketball team.

McCray is having somewhat of a breakout season during her junior campaign. After starting the first five games on the bench, McCray moved to the starting lineup for the Southeastern Louisiana game and hasn't looked back.

The Florida native is averaging 7.8 points per game and pulling down 5.4 rebounds per game. In the five games she's started, she's scored in double figures in four of them, including a career-high 17 points against Mississippi Valley State. McCray has been an important piece of the Ole Miss puzzle during the Rebels current six-game winning streak. In fact, Ole Miss is 5-0 with McCray in the starting lineup and just 2-4 when she comes off the bench.

While McCray's success on the hardwood might come as a surprise to some, it certainly isn't to her or her coaches and teammates.

McCray set some high expectations for herself at the start of the 2013-14 season.

"I want to get to that "third gear," said McCray. "Coach Matt always tells me I have a third gear inside of me and I want to get there. I'm really excited about getting there and seeing what type of player I can become. I want to be a great player and dominate this year and prove to everyone that I'm an undersized post, but I can still play with the 6-2 and 6-4 players out there."

Head coach Matt Insell is also pleased with the progression of McCray this season.

"She's getting better each and every game," said Insell. "I've pushed her very hard. She's someone I expect a lot out of with her rebounding and scoring. I'm very happy with her and she's going to continue to get better and better."

They say the biggest compliments come from your peers and McCray's teammates realize how important she is to the team's success.

"Danielle is very important for us to be successful," said fellow junior Tia Faleru. "She gives us everything she has on the court and we need her scoring and rebounding if we are to achieve the goals we set for our team. She's only going to get better and we know that we can count on her."

Senior point guard Valencia McFarland echo's Faleru's comments.

"Danielle is playing some of her best basketball," said McFarland. "She has stepped up and is really helping to lead us on the court. For our team to be successful this season, we need Danielle."

Whether it's preparing for a career as a Disney Imagineer or leading the Rebels on the basketball court, McCray is well on her way to finding her third gear.

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    Blog
    • Five Rebels Tabbed Preseason All-SEC in The Birmingham News

      Tuesday, June 30, 2015 -

      Five Ole Miss Rebels were chosen as preseason All-SEC selections by some of the people who work closest with the student-athletes, the football media relations directors. The 14 football media relations directors of the Southeastern Conference institutions voted in the... read more

    • Lindy's Sports Gives Seven Rebels Preseason Recognition

      Wednesday, June 24, 2015 -

      The preseason accolades just don't stop for the Ole Miss football team. Everywhere you look, Rebels can be found on preseason All-America teams. Lindy's Sports recognized seven Rebels for preseason honors, including four All-Americans. Four Ole Miss Football Rebels were... read more

    • Five Rebels Named Preseason All-America by Athlon Sports

      Tuesday, June 23, 2015 -

      With the season just 74 days away, members of the 2015 Ole Miss football team continue to earn recognition on Preseason All-America lists. Athlon Sports, the latest media outlet to release its 2015 college football preseason All-America team, gave five... read more

    • Sporting News Tabs Four Rebels to Preseason All-America Teams

      Monday, June 15, 2015 - Football

      Preseason All-America football teams continue to roll in, and Ole Miss has been well represented each time.Today, the Sporting News unveiled its preseason All-America first and second teams, which includes a total of four Rebels.OT Laremy Tunsil and DT Robert... read more

    • Athlon Sports Names Nine Rebels Preseason All-SEC

      Wednesday, June 10, 2015 - Football

      Individual preseason accolades continue to pile up for the Ole Miss football team as college football magazines look toward the 2015 season. Athlon Sports is the latest magazine to release its preseason all-conference teams, June 10; the magazine named nine... read more

    • Eleven Rebels Garner Phil Steele Preseason Honors

      Monday, June 1, 2015 - Football

      The start of summer heat and vacations is also the start of another tradition - preseason college football magazines.One of the first to produce a magazine every year is Phil Steele, whose 2015 version includes about as many Ole Miss... read more

    • Football Signees Report for Summer Classes

      Friday, May 29, 2015 - Football

      Although they will not begin competing for the Rebels until the fall, several members of the 2015 signing class have arrived at Ole Miss to begin their college journey this summer. The first of two summer sessions offered at the... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (April 28-May 4, 2015)

      Monday, May 4, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 28-May 4, 2015Baseball - The Rebels started the week defeating the Bulldogs, 11-1 in the annual Governor's Cup. The 10-run win for the Rebels marked the largest margin of victory in the 36-year history... read more

    • VIDEO: Rebel Road Trip 2015

      Monday, May 4, 2015 - Athletics

      Rebel Road Trip 2015 from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • More on Steelers' Selection of Golson

      Friday, May 1, 2015 - Football

      Welcome to Pittsburgh...and welcome to #SteelersNation, @Quez_G! #SteelersDraft pic.twitter.com/oY8wZc10Kk-- Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 2, 2015 Congrats Senquez Golson! Drafted 56th overall in the 2015 #NFLDRAFT by the Pittsburgh Steelers. #HottyToddy #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/EPGayDNOu7-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) May 2, 2015 Ole... read more

    • Six Rebels Among Inaugural Scott County HOF Class

      Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - Athletics

      Six men with ties to Ole Miss were part of the inaugural class of 25 athletes and coaches inducted into the Scott County Hall of Fame this past Saturday at Roosevelt State Park in Morton. It is believed that this... read more

    • Freeze, Tuohy Conclude Play at Charity Golf Tournament

      Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - Football

      In a tie for 7th place at 7-under, @OleMissFB takes home $30,000 in charity and scholarship. #CFAPBGolf pic.twitter.com/qd0JzilyYR-- #CFAPBGolf (@CFAPeachBowl) April 28, 2015 The Ole Miss team of head football coach Hugh Freeze and Sean Tuohy turned in a strong... read more

    • Tennis Teams React to NCAA Tournament Selections

      Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - Men's Tennis

      The Ole Miss men's and women's tennis team learned their postseason destinations, as the men's and women's NCAA Tournament fields were announced Tuesday. The men, ranked No. 13 in the nation, are the No. 14 overall seed and will be... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (April 21-27, 2015)

      Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 21-27, 2015Baseball - During the five-game homestand, Ole Miss went 3-2 with a midweek win over Central Arkansas as well as claiming a weekend series over Alabama.  - The Rebels recorded 68 hits throughout... read more

    • Freeze Wins Long Drive Competition

      Monday, April 27, 2015 - Football

      With a distance of 287-yards, the 2015 #CFAPBGolf Coaches Division Long Drive Champion is @CoachHughFreeze! pic.twitter.com/ProCdgbbg9-- #CFAPBGolf (@CFAPeachBowl) April 27, 2015 Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze took home the long drive title at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge... read more