Iron Hawks Fitness Club Takes Shape on Campus

Jim Corcoran

Leonardtown Group Provides Support to Students Pumping Iron

          Fitness was always a big part of Jim Corcoran’s life. And now, after a few academic twists and turns, Corcoran is a big part of fitness at the College of Southern Maryland’s Leonardtown Campus.

From the age of 10, Corcoran played organized football and in high school he began lifting weights. When he graduated from Calvert High School in 2009, he set his sights on studying archaeology at the University of Maryland College Park. “I knew I liked being physically active and I liked to be outside,” he said of his choice of majors. However, at the end of his freshman year, Corcoran had a revelation that what he would really enjoy was a career in fitness.

Since fall 2010, Corcoran has been enrolled in CSM’s exercise and sport science program, taking classes at each campus and online to fit his schedule. “I work on a farm with 25 horses—there’s a lot of manual labor involved and I like it; I like to work hard,” he said.

When Corcoran saw that CSM offered weightlifting classes, but no weightlifting club, he spoke with CSM Fitness Instructor Sherrise DeBaugh who encouraged him to start his own club. With DeBaugh’s help as club advisor, “Iron Hawks” was born.

 “I was amazed by the turnout of interest from his fellow students as well as his motivation and energy to form this club. He has taken all the right steps and I see this as a great success,” said CSM Assistant Director of Wellness, Fitness and Aquatics (WFA) Judith Ferrara.

Corcoran estimates that through word-of-mouth the club has grown to 15 regular members. “We meet once a week and share personal goals and encourage each other. I design a workout for the week and show new members how to use the equipment correctly,” Corcoran said.

At 240 pounds Corcoran could be a daunting presence, but instead he is welcoming and outgoing—traits that he didn’t come by naturally, he said.  “As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, I have always been socially awkward.” He didn’t let the condition define him, he said. “You can do a lot in this life. Just because you are different doesn’t mean that you are less of a man or less of a woman,” Corcoran said.

Corcoran’s enthusiasm for fitness instruction did not go unnoticed. As a student assistant with the Wellness, Fitness and Aquatics Department at the Leonardtown Campus, Corcoran received the Student Employee of the Year Award for 2012. The award nomination included comments from community members and swim clinic parents who praised Corcoran’s patience, enthusiasm and effective programming for those desiring to reach their fitness goals.

Iron Hawks Club meets 2:30-3:30 p.m. on Thursdays at the Leonardtown Campus Wellness, Fitness and Aquatics Center and is open to people of all ages and experience levels. For information, contact Corcoran at

For information on wellness, fitness and aquatics programs at CSM, visit