FIMBA GB Stories – Bruce Lauder

Our latest FIMBA GB Story focusses on +40 Women Assistant Coach and Committee Member, Bruce Lauder, who talks about how FIMBA GB have supported and rallied around him following his knee surgery.

Bruce has had knee problems since a growth spurt at age 16 caused tendon issues and forced him to stop playing his favourite sport of rugby so he moved to basketball when starting university. Bruce went on to captain the side, leading them to the Yorkshire League trophy as well as promotion in the BUSA university league structure. When his course sent him to Italy for the year he played for both the university and local sides in Urbino, not far from where the 2024 European Championships will be held this summer.

Upon his return to the UK, he played National League in Nottingham for his entire career, captaining the side as well as winning 6 National Titles, 2 MVPs and a Fans Player Award. Bruce was one of the league’s most prolific rebounders, finishing in the Top 10 every season and still holds two Nottingham Hoods club records for most rebounds in a game (22) and most rebounds per game (9.7 average from over 100 games).

His journey with FIMBA GB started back in the summer of 2021, when the world was dealing with the Covid pandemic.

I’d seen a couple of friends’ social posts on representing FIMBA GB at the European Championships and when I realised the rosters weren’t full, I thought I’d give it go. I tried out with the +40 Men and loved every moment, but knew I needed to work hard to even have a chance of getting picked. Luckily I had access to a school gym during lockdown so was able to go and put some shots up and work on my fitness. I was hugely surprised and fortunate to get picked for the team.

A member of the FIMBA GB +40 Men (nicknamed the GB Wolfpack) at the European Championships in Malaga, Bruce’s knee gave way in their 3rd group game. He spent the rest of the game on the physio table, but luckily the team had no games the following day.

I was gutted when I went down, made even worse by the fact my dad had flown over from Cyprus to watch the game and I’d not seen him since before Covid due to his cancer diagnosis. The crack was so loud my family heard in the crowd so I feared the worst. I was so fortunate to have our physio at the game. It was that evening that I first really understood what FIMBA GB was about, as I had so many players from other teams that I had never met before, come and check I was ok, bring me ice and offer help.

Having gone through some exercises straight after the game, Bruce spent the rest day with the physio on the bike, rowing machine, in the pool and working on stability exercises. Some pain killers and bespoke warmups and Bruce was able to continue playing in the tournament as they won the Silver medal.

Upon returning to the UK, an X-ray revealed a fractured knee cap and whilst not being able to play, Bruce was invited to be part of the FIMBA GB committee to help shape the future of the organisation. Bruce kept up with the physio work and was back in a position where he was able to play again and when his wife, Charlie, was picked to play for the +40 Women in the Masters World Cup, he was keen to get back in to Men’s squad and have the opportunity to represent his country with his wife. In January 2023, Bruce received a major setback with the results of his MRI, a complete ACL rupture, partial MCL tear and bilateral meniscal tear.

I couldn’t believe it when I got the MRI results, neither could my physio and he called me immediately. He concluded my knee had clearly been weak for some time and the strong quad and hamstring has been doing most of the work for a few years. I got myself on the NHS waiting list but after chatting more with the physio and surgeon they both agreed that I couldn’t do any more damage and if I was comfortable to play, I could… I did. I toured Switzerland with the Wolfpack and then went to the World Cup and I got the unique experience of representing Great Britain, with my wife playing as well.

In Croatia, the knee held out all the way to their final game, when it finally gave way again. The team rallied to win the bronze medal and that evening Tony Harrison, coach of the +40 Women, came to Bruce and asked him if he would like to stay involved with FIMBA GB and be his assistant.

I went to the World Cup with a bust knee and came back with a bust knee, a bronze medal and a chance to get into coaching so I wasn’t too disappointed! But coming back and resigning myself to the fact that may be basketball over for me was tough. After the operation I wasn’t able to put any weight through my left leg for 4 months, which meant no exercise, no stress release and no real way of doing much for myself. Mentally it became very tough. As great as it sounds to have your family waiting on you hand and foot, I hated it and really struggled some days, but the FIMBA GB family really helped me.

Tasked with re-branding FIMBA GB and updating the website by the committee, as well as supporting with recruitment and development of the +40 Women distracted Bruce from the pain and disappointment of the situation.

I remember about 3 months in, I hit a real low. A lack of sleep, the inability to do anything for myself and the miserable weather all just got on top of me. Then all of a sudden, I started receiving messages from players and coaches from other FIMBA GB teams, as well as some players from other countries too, asking how I was doing and wishing me a speedy recovery. It was around the same time as we set up FIMBA GB Stories and I started reading about the incredible individuals we have in FIMBA GB. Suffering heart-attacks, fighting cancer, losing family members yet still playing and I realised my injury was so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and I was actually in a very fortunate position.

Now, only two weeks from taking the +40 Women back to the World Cup and still pushing the FIMBA GB organisation forward to bigger and better things, Bruce is half-way through his rehab and is excited to potentially play again.

Seeing how hard the +40 Women have worked and reading the reports from all the other camps, especially the +70 Men is so inspiring and has really focussed me to keep in shape during the rehab so I can hopefully try out for one of the teams for Switzerland in 2025. The support from FIMBA GB throughout has been incredible, whether it be my teammates, the +40 women or other age groups, I am so fortunate to be part of this great organisation on or off the court.

Thank you for sharing your story, Bruce. We are so pleased to have you as part of the FIMBA GB family and appreciate all you do for the teams and organsistaion.