Christmas in January

Since I began blogging in 2006, this blog has become the vehicle for my annual family Christmas letter (See the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 editions.) The advantages have been numerous, including the ability to add color images and video and no need to pay for postal service distribution. Sometimes I’ve even completed it during Thanksgiving.

This is the first time I’ve needed to push it significantly into the New Year, and with some good reasons beyond procrastination. With so much of our family (including grandchildren) home for Christmas, it seemed odd to consider doing this post until I could get updated photos and video featuring them. And once our grandchildren arrived the day after Christmas, it would have been odd to take time away from being with them to be writing about them. After all, they live in Michigan and we don’t get as much in-person time with them as we’d like.

Here’s a picture of me with grandson Judah and his sister Evelyn during one of our family Christmas gatherings, as we Skyped with my daughter Ruthie who was in Vienna (more on that in a bit):

Lee Judah Evie

Then the flu hit, and what had been planned as a 6-7 day visit from the Borgs stretched to two full weeks. It was nice having them here that long, although we would have preferred healthier circumstances.

So…somewhat belatedly…here is our Aase family 2012 update.

Our oldest daughter Rachel and her husband Kyle continue to live in Grand Rapids, Michigan with Evelyn, Judah and Aletta. Kyle is in his last semester of seminary and will be looking to move in May to accept a call as a pastor. They have three good options and we pray for wisdom as they try to discern the best one for them.

Speaking of options, as our six kids were growing up we had a family tradition called “The Option Play.” I would pretend I was a quarterback and they were the football and would call out the signals before faking handoff and then pitching. Because I always called out the same numbers in the pre-snap count, this tradition became known as “9-87.” Until they all got too big for me, one of the favorite things I’d hear my kids say was, “Daddy, let’s do 9-87!”

During their Christmas visit I got to continue the tradition with a new generation:

Our oldest son Jacob lives with his wife Alexi in LaCrosse, Wisconsin where he is in the second year of the Physical Therapy program. He got to do an internship in Rochester during August, so it was nice to have him staying with us. We got to ride into work together several times, which was really special. He’ll be doing internships in the Phoenix area this Summer and in Atlanta next Fall. Alexi is working full-time while Jacob devotes himself to studies. He’s halfway through and should be well set for employment prospects a year from May.

Bekah Ruthie Nurses

Rebekah is in the second year of the two-year RN program at Riverland Community College in Austin. She’s also a member of the Riverland women’s basketball team, and twice has been named NJCAA Division III national player of the week. She also works part time at a local nursing home as an LPN, where Ruthie, who is now back from her seven-month stint in Bulgaria, is working as an RN. It was fun one day recently when I got to bring them lunch at work.

Speaking of Ruthie, she arrived home on Jan. 7 from her mission trip to Bulgaria (another good reason to delay writing this post). She was there with Mission to the World, our Presbyterian Church in America world mission. It was a great experience for her made more bearable for us by Skype and other communications technology. We’re glad to have her back in the U.S.A.

Joe has had quite a year, starting with being a co-captain with our nephew Tom of the Austin High School basketball team that was the first Austin boys team to win the section title and make the state tournament since 1982. It was a fun family night to celebrate the section win together:

Section win

Joe and Tom played AAU basketball together with the Minnesota Magic Elite last Spring and Summer, traveling to Pittsburgh, Houston, Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas and Milwaukee (twice) to play against some of the top teams in the country.

Joe had several college scholarship offers, and so we spent much of the Summer and Fall sorting out options. We visited Nebraska-Omaha, Winona State and Minnesota State-Mankato unofficially since they were within driving distance. Here’s a picture of Lisa as we stood in the rain in Mankato watching the Vikings (on Adrian Peterson’s first day of practice):

Lisa at MSU

We took official visits to two Division I schools, Davidson College and Boston University, in September. Jacob came with us on the Boston visit, where we got to (among other things) tour Fenway Park:

Joe Jake Fenway

It was a happy and proud day in November when Joe and Tom signed their National Letters of Intent to accept scholarship offers: Joe to attend Davidson and Tom to go to Division II University of Sioux Falls.

Joe Tom Signing

Joe and Tom were glad to get the college decisions out of the way before their senior season, and it’s been a great year so far. The Packers are 15-0 and currently ranked #2 in the state in Class AAA. We’re hoping for a return trip to Minneapolis for the state tournament in March. Follow the Packers on Twitter, Facebook or on the blog.

John, our youngest, is 14 and in eighth grade. He’s home schooled but is in the middle school orchestra, and also participates in Bible Bowl. Lisa’s home schooling is definitely much simpler now with only John among her students. With Joe’s high school and AAU basketball finishing in March, we will be able to focus more on John’s pursuits. Here’s John with his brothers engrossed in a computer game at Christmas:

John and brothers

As a family, we’re glad to be members of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Rochester, where I am an elder. The congregation has been a great blessing to us, and we’re looking forward to completion of our new church facility, likely in May. The construction is proceeding nicely:

Church Building

My work also has been going well at Mayo Clinic, where I am the director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. It’s been great having Dr. Farris Timimi as our medical director, and we have a fantastic team. Between our Social Media Summit in October in Rochester, our New York City event in May and many other travels, it’s been gratifying to meet so many people interested in using social media to make health care better.

Only God knows what we have in store for 2013, but it’s likely our house will be a lot quieter this time next year, with Joe going to Davidson and Rebekah and Ruth possibly moving to the Twin Cities. Rachel, Kyle and the kids will likely either be in Kansas or Indiana, and Jacob and Alexi will be far away for his internships.

So as we anticipate lots of changes in the coming year, Lisa and I wish you and yours many blessings in 2013.

A Happy Week for the Aase Family

This was a week that will be long remembered for the Aase family and for the Austin High School basketball program, as my son Joe and nephew Tom, both two-time all-conference players returning this year for their senior seasons, accepted scholarship offers to play college basketball.

Austin hasn’t had a scholarship basketball player since 1999, so having two players accept offers in one week is quite a milestone. And it’s pretty cool that I’m related to both of them!

Joe committed to Davidson College (read about it here and here), while Tom is going to the University of Sioux Falls.

It’s great to have these decisions made, so the boys can focus on their high school season. With three starters returning from last year’s state tournament team, Austin is hoping to make some noise.

March Madness in July

I’ve admittedly been infrequent (some might even say derelict) recently in developing new posts here on SMUG. The main reason is my focus during this season on my son Joe’s AAU basketball team, and chronicling their spring and summer season.

Right now we are in the middle of what I call “March Madness in July.” It’s the time when NCAA coaches are able to be on the road scouting talent and offering scholarships. Joe and his cousin Tom, both seniors-to-be for Austin High School, are playing with the Minnesota Magic Elite AAU team, based in the Twin Cities. And aside from my work-related blogging, my discretionary effort recently has been on the Magic site, where we have profiles of each of the players as well as video highlights from many of their games.

As I write this, Lisa and I are in the air above Tennessee on the way to Orlando for a national AAU tournament at the Wide World of Sports complex. Next week we head to Las Vegas for the Fab 48.

I probably will do a post with more analysis of the Magic site as part of the curriculum here, but for now here is video from the first half of one of the team’s stronger efforts, from a tournament in St. Cloud at the end of June:

The Magic site is similar to the site I developed for the Austin Packer Fast Break Club, which support the Austin High School team.

Both are examples of what you can accomplish with a Flip camera and $30 or less for a custom domain on

A Chancellor Sabbatical

I know the new curriculum posts have been infrequent lately, but those following my Twitter stream know the main reason: it’s basketball season, and my son Joe and nephew Tom are two of the key players on our Austin High School basketball team.

They’re both juniors and both were named first-team all-conference, along with a sophomore teammate, Zach Wessels. I’ll have some posts in the coming days about how I’m applying the SMUG curriculum and the four basic food groups of social media in support of their team.

But first, I want to share some news coverage about a major achievement of their team, in winning their section championship and earning Austin’s first trip to the Minnesota State Boys Basketball Tournament in 30 years. And they did it in an extremely exciting way, as Joe, Tom and Zach all played a role in rallying to win in the last few minutes.

Here’s an interesting feature story from KTTC-TV in Rochester, featuring someone you all know:

So in a sense I have been taking a sabbatical in my Chancellor role, but as you will see in some upcoming posts, I’ve also been able to experiment with the application of social tools in an area outside of my regular work. I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned in applying social media in high school sports.

An Aase State of Mind

That’s the headline from this story in today’s Austin Daily Herald about basketball in my hometown, and about our family’s history (and hopefully future) of participating in Minnesota’s state high school basketball tournament. Here’s an excerpt:

Austin center Joe Aase knows all about his dad Lee’s history on the basketball court.

He knows he went to the state basketball tournament in 1981 with the Packers and he knows he played in the title game.

Joe also knows about his sister Rebekah. He knows she played in the state basketball tournament in 2008 because he was there.

Now Joe’s hoping he finally gets his chance to play in the state tournament as the Packers (12-4 overall, 9-2 Big Nine) are currently sitting atop the Section 1A standings and are just a half game behind Owatonna in the Big Nine.

Read the whole story here.

As a dad, it was a great blessing to be able to watch Rebekah and her team get to the state tournament in 2008 (I wrote about it here), and now Joe and my nephew Tom (who also is a junior starter on the boys’ team) are part of a team that is poised to make a tournament run. It’s particularly neat for my dad and mom, who also still live in Austin, to be able to watch both grandsons play, and also to get to go to Rebekah’s games as she is now playing at the local community college.

As a volunteer with the team’s booster club, I’m applying the SMUG philosophy, using social media tools to track (and promote) the team’s progress through a blog (the Packer Fast Break Club site), a YouTube channel and a Twitter account. I’m using a Flip camera (on a tripod) to capture game highlights to post to YouTube.

Since I already had the Flip, the total cost for all of it is about $20 a year for the domain and mapping it from

How are you using your SMUG lessons to provide low-cost, high impact support for community or volunteer programs?