Feature of the Week
September 19, 2020
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A sports doctor putting players together

  • Michael Sweeney M.D. (AKA Doc Sweeney) at his post on the Cougars' sideline keeping a watchful eye for any potentially injured players on the field from either team. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Irene Hilsendager
November 15, 2019

Doctor Michael Sweeney was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of William Alan and Sally Lou Sweeney. Brother Peter and Sister Alison completed the family.  At the age of four months old, the family moved to Richmond, Ca. as his father was a chemist who worked for Chevron but mostly did patents as a papermaker. He attended Terra Linda School for one year and graduated from Redwood High School in Larkspur. He attended Davis, Berkeley and the University of California San Francisco.

His very first stint was as a high school teacher in Frasier, Montana. Frasier is a small town amid an Indian Reservation and the weather was cold and relentless. 

Michael decided to go back to school and study to be a medical doctor. His residency took place at the Santa Rosa Community Hospital for three years.

When Doctor Sweeney’s first wife passed away from brain cancer, in due time he married Rorie and they became a blended family. He is very proud of all of the children: there is daughter Erin who lives in Oakland and works for a Shakespeare Company in Sonoma and is proud to be going to Israel, Kerri lives in Hawaii, Melissa lives in Sonoma County and is a photographer and Donald resides in Portland. Ore. and is a videographer. 

When leaving the community hospital, he was hired at Kaiser Permanente as a family doctor and practiced in the Santa Rosa Kaiser clinic for 27 years.   Sadly in 2015, Doctor Sweeney retired from the medical profession as a doctor at Kaiser, but the community of Rohnert Park has seen him around for 31 years on the sidelines of Rancho Cotate High School being the good and kind sports doctor. 

Michael was asked why he become the Ranch’s sports doctor, he said since he does all of the home games from the sidelines and has always loved athletics while growing up, why not let others enjoy life but in a healthy way.

When questioned about some incidents that happened on the field, he was quick to answer with, oh I have many stories, but this one sticks out. One of the players had his helmet twisted off his head and tore one half of his ear off. Doc says, “I just stitched it up and send him into the second half of the game.” 

Sweeney says he carries three bags at all times. His doctor bag, his tool bag and another bag just for jackets as it gets mighty cool at times waiting for the game to end. He loved working with Henri Sarlatte donning the Hawaiian shirt and shorts on for every game. And of course, now he gets to work with Henri Jr.  in the same capacity.

Another incident that was funny when he talked about a young guy that was big and was an all-League offense and defense for Santa Rosa High and in one of the games he told the doctor, “when I get tired I am going to go down, so take me out. After the young fellow had rested, he was sent back into the game.” Doctor Sweeney has relocated shoulders on the field for players and even did the same procedure on some cheer leaders. 

Doc Sweeney for years was a great biker but has had to slow down due to a very bad accident that kept him out of the medical practice for seven months but after healing his poor body, he went right back to Kaiser and took up where he left off. He is still part of the old biking racing team but doesn’t partake in too often. He also is associated with the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The good doctor says, I went into medical family practice because I loved to learn about human beings and how they worked and always love to help people. 

When inquiring as to why he has been a Ranch sport doctor for all those years and he replied, “I have stayed with the Ranch because it is a good program with a whole bunch of great guys, administrators, coaches and kids in a good productive place. This is a great program for the students that wouldn’t otherwise be very productive.” As for his leisure time, he only works 20 hours a week at Sutter Medical Center.