THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Starla Wright realized being at "The Happiest Place On Earth" every day wouldn't improve her basketball skills.
There were no pickup games with Mickey Mouse or weightlifting sessions with Cinderella.
But Wright viewed the opportunity as an investment in her future.
Wright took the 2011 fall semester off from CLU and enrolled in the Disney College Program.
She didn't return to the women's basketball team until midway through the season, and was playing catch-up the rest of the way.
This season, Wright has been training with the Regals from the very start and it's showing on the court.
The 5-foot-10 senior is averaging a team-leading 18.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game while shooting 57.2 percent from the field.
She scored a career-high 34 points in Saturday's 110-95 victory over La Verne that elevated CLU (13-2, 6-1) into first place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings.
"I am glad to be back playing well again," Wright said. "Obviously, last season, I didn't perform as well as I did my freshman and sophomore years because I took the time off. But I feel much better this season."
Wright first heard about Disney program in high school, and decided to apply once she received an email about it.
She took classes to learn about Disney's corporate structure, and worked at the Emporium and the Candy Palace on Main Street at Disneyland.
"It was a good experience, and it is good to have on a résumé," Wright said. "I don't want to work at Disneyland, but I would like to work for the company through accounting, which is my major."
Wright's consistent presence in Cal Lutheran's lineup this season has been a major reason for the team's success. Although Wright is CLU's statistical leader, she prefers to blend into the background.
"I don't necessarily like to be the go-to player," she said. "I like to just fill in where I am needed like rebounding and putting it in if my teammate doesn't come up with a shot. I don't mind taking the supporting role."
Wright's biggest improvement has come in her rebounding.
"I used to just try to out-athletic everyone and just jump up for a rebound. Now I am blocking out and going up with two hands," she said. "I feel like I have really solidified that aspect of my game."
Wright graduated from Valencia High, and was drawn to CLU by its proximity to home. Wright has 24-year-old twin brothers who are autistic.
"My mom is a single parent and I like to help her out," Wright said. "Being at CLU, I can be away yet still be close enough to go home when I need to."
After Wright returned to the team last year, she helped Cal Lutheran capture the SCIAC tournament title and earn a berth into the NCAA Tournament.
More SCIAC titles and postseason success remain a high priority in her final season.
"We have seven seniors and we have all really come together to solidify this team," Wright said. "That is the goal being carried out right now, especially the way we have been playing lately. It's good to see us coming together and seeing the results come in our favor."