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
    • Rebels Fall Short in Death Valley

      Sunday, October 26, 2014 - Football

      BATON ROUGE, La. -- Ole Miss had its chances. The Ole Miss defense made seven points stand up for the better part of four quarters, forcing four turnovers and limiting LSU to just three points on its first three trips... read more

    • Three and Out: Ole Miss-LSU

      Saturday, October 25, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 3 Ole Miss travels to No. 23 LSU for an SEC West Showdown on Saturday. Stopping The Run Not just this year, but throughout head coach Les Miles' tenure, LSU's running game has been... read more

    • What They're Saying: Ole Miss-LSU Pregame

      Friday, October 24, 2014 - Football

      Ahead of a rivalry renewed on a national stage, complete with a visit of ESPN's "College GameDay" and the mystique of a Saturday night game in Death Valley, here's link roundup of videos and stories from local and national media... read more

    • Extra Emphasis on Special Teams Play

      Thursday, October 23, 2014 - Football

      Extra Emphasis on Special Teams Play Through the years, special teams play has provided a winning edge in the Ole Miss-LSU rivalry, and and you don't have to go all the way back to Billy Cannon's 1959 Halloween run. In... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 8

      Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 8 - Tennessee (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Freeze, Miles Talk Ole Miss-LSU Rivalry

      Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and LSU head coach Les Miles on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, ahead of Saturday's game in Baton Rouge.For the full SEC teleconference, go here.Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze (starts at 1:06:12... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Oct. 13-19)

      Monday, October 20, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewOct. 13-19, 2014Football- Ole Miss rode its dominant defense to a 34-3 homecoming win over Tennessee on Saturday to improve to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in Southeastern Conference play.- The Rebels are 7-0 for just... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Oct. 19

      Sunday, October 19, 2014 - Athletics

      It's Sunday, so that means it's time for this week's Observations from the Best Seat in the House. There was no shortage of observations surrounding the Homecoming festivities this weekend. Let's get into it:1. When "College GameDay" visits Baton Rouge,... read more

    • Winning Formula for Rebels is No Secret

      Saturday, October 18, 2014 - Football

      The winning formula revealed itself as it has throughout the season: a dominant defense and a mistake-free offense. The Ole Miss defense forced four turnovers, while the Ole Miss offense did not commit a single turnover in a workmanlike 34-3... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss-Tennessee Motivational

      Saturday, October 18, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss vs Tennessee Official Team Motivational from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-Tennessee

      Saturday, October 18, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 3 Ole Miss faces Tennessee for Homecoming on Saturday.'Third Down for What'Tennessee is very dangerous, Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze said, because its talented, particularly if it gets momentum and confidence during... read more

    • SEC Nation Talent Talks Ole Miss on Visit

      Friday, October 17, 2014 - Football

      Highlights from today's media opportunity with SEC Nation host Joe Tessitore and analysts Tim Tebow and Marcus Spears discussing the show's visit to Oxford for the SEC matchup between No. 3 Ole Miss and Tennessee. Tessitore recalls calling the first college... read more

    • What They're Saying: Midseason Honors

      Friday, October 17, 2014 - Football

      At the halfway point of the regular season, Ole Miss is 6-0 for the first time since 1962, when it went 10-0 and earned a share of the national title. It's No. 3 ranking in the national polls is its... read more

    • Rebels Slow Offensive Tempo

      Thursday, October 16, 2014 - Football

      With a dominant defense that ranks among the nation's leaders in most statistical categories, head coach Hugh Freeze acknowledged he has changed his offensive philosophy and play-calling to limit negative plays and quick possessions. Ole Miss averaged the second-most offensive... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 7

      Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 7 - Texas A&M (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more