Real People: Dance to the beat

Mother uses natural talent to perform
By Tamara Jones, Globe-News Correspondent


LaShaundra ThompsonBlood, sweat and tears. Is that what one gets as a Dusters Darlin’?


Not so much the blood and only a few tears, but definitely the sweat.


As a fourth year Darlin’, LaShaundra Thompson can attest to that.


The 23 year-old Dodge City, Kan., native has always loved dancing.


“It’s a passion of mine,” she said. “When I was a child and would hear music, it was very difficult not to dance. In school, I would have to control myself so everyone else wouldn’t laugh.”


Thompson has had no professional training other than a few dance lessons and ballet classes. She was also a member of the drill team while in junior high.


Toward the end of her sophomore year, Thompson’s family moved to Amarillo where she finished the school year at Amarillo High School.


In 2004, a friend asked her to try out for the Duster Darlin’s because they needed more dancers.


Among the requirements to be a Darlin’, one must “know how to dance or at least have some kind of rhythm. You also have to have a positive attitude, because you’re in the public eye a lot,” according to Thompson.


“I love the feeling of stepping out onto the field with all eyes on me and giving the audience a show,” said Thompson when speaking of her favorite part of being a Duster Darlin’. “Most of all, I just love to dance.”


Her least favorite part is, “Probably the soreness that I take home with me when I’ve danced really hard at practice or a game. We are constantly on the move at the games, running on the field, throwing out T-shirts and souvenirs, dancing on the field, dancing on the sideline, signing autographs.”


Although the Darlin’s only practice twice a week as a team, Thompson practices “wherever I can to ensure that I have the dances down. You can even catch me dancing in my chair at work – or at least trying.”


Thompson’s day job is working for a temporary employment agency.


When not working or practicing her dance routines, she enjoys spending time with her 4-year-old son, Javaylen.


“I love to take him to the park to feed the ducks because he enjoys it and it gives us time together.”


One of Thompson’s neighbors is her mother, Sonya Thompson. “My mother and I are like best friends,” she said. “We talk about everything and do things together all the time.


“I talk to her about everything and she gives me advice. We have a key to each other’s house, and she will go to mine when I’m not home and leave little gifts.”


Although Thompson’s father, Calvin Ray Thompson, was not in her life much when she was young, “I still love him a lot. He isn’t a big part of my life now, but we stay in touch.”


Thompson prides herself on her personal accomplishments, saying, “I have been through a lot in my life and I am so proud of myself and where I am today.


“I am a single mom; I work, dance and go to school. I have my own house and my own car and I take great care of my little man. I consider myself to be a strong woman because I have overcome many things.”


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