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McGAIR: Ole Miss throwing coach loves potential of Woonsocket's Tarik Robinson-O'Hagan

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Woonsocket senior All-American thrower Tarik Robinson-O’Hagan, above, impressed his future coach at Ole Miss, John Smith, with his versatility. Smith is also pleased with Robinson-O’Hagan’s improvement.

A little of this, a little of that …

• John Smith is the throwing coach at the University of Mississippi, aka Ole Miss. He knows a thing or two about putting individuals on the right track. Smith’s bio on makes note that he’s coached four Olympians, 13 NCAA champions and 92 All-Americans.

With credentials that scream success, it would appear that Woonsocket High All-American Tarik Robinson-O’Hagan will be in excellent hands upon heading down to the SEC school located in Oxford, Miss. Smith was given the green light to officially talk about Robinson-O’Hagan after the senior signed his National Letter of Intent back on Nov. 10.

“I have yet to see him throw in person but I’ve been following him for a good year-and-a-half,” said Smith during a recent phone interview.

Landing someone who’s a state champion in two events (shot put, discus) and ended his junior year ranked second in the nation in the hammer as well as the weight … Smith envisions Robinson-O’Hagan racking up points in multiple events for the Rebels the moment he begins matriculating.

“A lot of times you offer a kid a full [scholarship] ride to the number one kid in the country in a certain event. Tarik is like two in one. That’s what makes him really interesting,” said Smith. “He’s shown he can compete at high-level meets where you’re competing on back-to-back days.”

Smith is well aware of the stories involving Robinson-O’Hagan and the improvement that was made without the benefit of lifting weights.

“For a guy to get that much better this year just by throwing means his upside is fantastic,” said Smith. “I’m very excited to get him here. He’s very talented and will fit right in. He runs his life around training which is something you don’t see a lot of with kids these days.

“They say if you can get a kid on the [Ole Miss] campus that you have an 80 percent chance of getting him. They see the tradition and SEC football … things that not many other schools have,” Smith added. “We take care of the throwers. We’re like a big family. He fit right into that when he came to visit.”

Smith showed Robinson-O’Hagan the workout schedule that he would be following. The coach was pleased to see the youngster embrace the plan with open arms.

“If you don’t think you can do this or you don’t like it, don’t come here. He figured it out quickly. He’s smart,” said Smith. “I think he’s going to end up as the star of the team.”


• Attention those planning to attend Wednesday’s 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve football game at Pariseau Field between St. Raphael and Moses Brown. The two holiday rivals are joining forces for a clothing drive to benefit The Elisha Project, a non-profit organization located in East Providence and dedicated to helping those less fortunate.

Players from the Quakers and Saints are serving as the point persons in the hope of collecting articles of new or gently used clothing. Leading the charge on behalf of SRA is senior RB/MLB Miles DeMacedo. Sophomore OL Trey McAuliffe has been deputized the representative for Moses Brown.

Tables featuring the The Elisha Project banner will be set up outside the Pariseau Field gate.


• It’s been confirmed that former football captains from Cumberland and Woonsocket high schools will be present at Tucker Field Thursday morning (10 a.m. kickoff) for the 57th chapter of the Turkey Day rivalry between the Clippers and Villa Novans. Representing Cumberland during the coin toss will be Matt Campanelli and Chris Arthurs. Also slated to be out there at midfield will be three former Woonsocket captains: Kris Lagor, Eric Charron, and Greg Abramek.


• Another co-op between Tolman and Shea high schools is on the docket, this time in girls basketball. It’s been decided that each program’s head coach – Walter “Bunky” Gonzalez at Tolman, John Lickert via Shea – will serve as co-coaches and that the home games will be contested at Jenks Middle School.


• The formation of the Tolman/Shea girls basketball team means there was an opening for the Donaldson-Lynch Tournament that’s back on the grid at the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket. New to this year’s four-team field (that also includes St. Raphael and Central Falls) will be Cumberland High with the Clippers under the direction of first-year head coach Owen Keenan.


• That’s a wrap as far as Lincoln’s Jack Bacon playing college soccer. A graduate student this fall at Bryant University, Bacon was named to the NEC All-Tournament team after making a career-high nine saves in the Bulldogs’ loss to LIU in penalty kicks in the semifinals of the conference tournament.

Statistically, Bacon ended the season ranked 10th nationally in Division I saves-per-game (5.31 per contest) and 14th nationally in save percentage (.802).

Interesting to note, every stage of Bacon’s scholastic soccer career ended in PKs after the game was scoreless in regulation. It started at Lincoln Middle School (lost as an eighth grader to Mount St. Charles in the state semis) before continuing at Lincoln High (lost as a junior to Toll Gate in the D-II final) and prep school at Pomfret (Conn.) Academy (fell to Lawrence Academy in NEPSAC quarterfinals).

It’ll be interesting to see if Bacon gets an opportunity at the pro level. For now, he can take solace in working hard in pursuit of an MBA from Bryant.


• It’s a repeat honor for Lincoln High alum Camryn Thompson who earned a spot on the CoSIDA Academic All-District I First Team for women’s soccer for the second time during her stellar four-year career at Stonehill College. Thompson’s senior season also saw her named to the Northeast-10 First Team after leading the 2021 Skyhawks in goals (11) and total points (23).


• The Rhode Island Golf Association has announced its 2021 individual winners with Cumberland native/Pawtucket Country Club product Max Jackson named Junior Boys’ Player of the Year and Kirkbrae Country Club product Kylie Eaton taking home the honor as Junior Girls’ Player of the Year.


• Former Tolman High soccer standout (and R.I. Gatorade POY recipient) Luis Blanco was named First Team All-Little East Conference after collecting nine goals and two assists in 17 games (14 starts) this past season as a junior forward at Rhode Island College.


• Take a look at the offensive numbers that former Woonsocket High product Ke’Vaughn Davis put up for the Worcester State football team this fall: 70 receptions, 1,132 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns. He was a tour de force, hence it wasn’t a surprise to see Davis – listed as a sophomore – selected to the First Team All-Conference by the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC).


• A senior at Providence Country Day, Ally Murray has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in acrobatics & tumbling at Quinnipiac University. Murray is the daughter of Tolman High baseball head coach Theo Murray.


• Proof that running truly runs in the family, St. Raphael cross country/track head coach Chris Magill watched his 10-year-old son Cooper win the Region I Junior Olympic Boys’ 9-10-Year-Old Cross-Country Championship at Highland Park Sunday. Representing the Sentinel Striders youth running club, Cooper clocked in at 10 minutes, 48 seconds. His margin of victory was 17 seconds.


• Best of luck to Miss R.I. Karly Laliberte – daughter of Pawtucket assistant athletic director Frank Laliberte – as she gears up for next Monday’s Miss USA pageant out in Tulsa.


• Thank you to for still being operational. Because the website hasn’t been taken off line, I was able to do my Christmas shopping for my two-month-old nephew. No, he won’t be receiving anything from me with a “W” on it.


• This column would have been longer, but those darn leaves … they simply won’t go away. I’ve already lost count of how many bags I’ve filled. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving!

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03. Check out the “Ocean State Sidelines” podcast that appears on and

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