CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Kayla Christopher is not one to run from the spotlight.
However, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga guard is not one to embrace it either.
Now a senior, the quiet, calm and consistent Lady Mocs' star has unfortunately found now way to avoid it in her senior season.
"I'm just a really laid back person," said the 5-foot-9 sharpshooter. "I don't like to speak up a lot. I'm pretty shy, but this year I didn't have anyone to push it off on."
Christopher's preference to play a quieter role is a bit unusual considering she played for perennial power Oliver Springs High School under her mother, Michelle Christopher, who is one of the most successful high school coaches in East Tennessee.
"It's probably a blessing and a curse at the same time," Christopher said of being shy. "I think I have the ability to be vocal when I need to be."
This year she's worked hard to raise her voice, accepting the responsibility that comes with being a veteran on a young team.
Head coach Wes Moore said she has made strides in that regard, in her own way.
"She's never going to be that 'rah-rah' type out there," Moore said. "But like a lot of coach's kids, she's a coach on the floor who can lead by example. She has a high basketball IQ, and she's been great helping bring along our younger kids."
Christopher is still happy to share the spotlight with her teammates when possible, but it hasn't always been an option this season.
Sure, Chattanooga is on a 13-game winning streak, but it only survives because Christopher single-handedly took over at least three games in that stretch.
"It's not always scoring for me. I feel like I can contribute in a lot of different ways," said Christopher, who ranks second on UTC's all-time career 3-point list. "But I know there comes a point when I do have to be a scorer. I'll try to put the team on my back."
She did it in the second half against Samford, scoring all 18 of her points in the second half to help UTC pull away late for a 60-46 win. Two games later, Christopher hit three consecutive 3-pointers in a 20-point outburst that helped the Lady Mocs survive a scare from UNC Greensboro in a 74-68 win.
"She's just a senior with a refuse to lose attitude," Moore said. "There's been several games where we've struggled and needed her to take over in the second half.
"That's her role. She needs to be the one to step up and look for her shot."
That line might be a metaphor for her final collegiate season, which is her last shot to lead the Lady Mocs back to their promised land: the NCAA Tournament.
She played a key role as a true freshman on Chattanooga's last NCAA Tournament squad in 2010, but hasn't been back since.
If UTC were to fall short of the Big Dance again this year, next season's roster will be completely void of any NCAA Tournament experience for the first time since 1999.
"It's really important to me to get there for our younger players," said Christopher, who will be honored with teammate Kylie Lambert on Senior Night this Saturday. "This is it. When Kylie and I graduate, no one has a ring. They don't have that experience.
"It's really important for us to get the program back on track before they graduate."
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