BRIDGTON – At next Saturday’s grand opening of the 20-acre recreational field complex in Bridgton, hundreds of kids will take to the baseball, lacrosse and softball fields while Larry and Lyn Carter will be cheering them on, thinking of their daughter, Laurie A. Carter Bergen.

The proud parents of the former standout Lake Region High School softball player have worked tirelessly to raise the $50,000 required to name one of the fields at the new complex in honor of their daughter, who died in 2009 from a heart condition at the age of 26.

Laurie’s twin sister, Jan, also a standout softballer at Lake Region, will stand alongside her parents, as will her three siblings, David, Denise and Alan. Also present will be Laurie’s husband, Albert Bergen, and the couple’s daughter, Kayla Rose Bergen, who was born five weeks before her mom died.

Though still $10,000 away from reaching the $50,000 naming goal, the chance to take part in a field dedication and grand opening ceremony is a proud moment for the Carter family.

“It means a lot to us to have the field named after her,” Lyn Carter said. “We want her name out there. She was an awesome softball player. A year before she passed away she was still playing softball. And we just want to thank the community and family and friends for all the help and support.”

Carter said her daughter “lived for softball,” so having a field named after her is a fitting tribute.

“We went to lots of her games,” Carter said. “I’m very proud of my girls, and all my kids were involved in some kind of sport. And Laurie couldn’t wait to play her next softball game. When she got home from playing a game, she would get her softball bag with her bat and glove and have it all ready for the next game or practice.”

And Kayla Rose, now 31?2- years-old, has her own softball glove.

“So it’s going to stay in the family for sure,” Carter said.

“And we’re hoping someday she can play on her mom’s field. We’re going to tell her all about it. She’s young but she’s going to know. We’ve taken lots of pictures of when the field was all woods until now, so she’ll know as she gets older.”

Laurie’s father, Larry Carter, has been active in making the field complex a reality since the concept took off in 1997. Carter is the vice president of the Bridgton Recreation Advancement Group, which has raised about $850,000 and is overseeing development of the complex.

As president of the Sebago-Long Lake Cal Ripken Baseball League, Carter said fields in Bridgton were in short supply before the complex, officially known as the Kendal C. and Anna Ham Recreation Complex, opened for games last September. Like his wife, Larry Carter said the naming of the softball field after their daughter is a perfect memorial.

“I got involved with the project before my daughter died. And she always played softball so I said, well, let’s dedicate one of the fields to her and that was $50,000 so we started raising money for that,” he said. “And it feels very good. It’s a good memory for my daughter. She loved softball––loved it, loved it.”

Larry Carter coached his twin girls as youngsters when they participated in the boys baseball league in Casco.

“They were great players even back then and then they went on to play softball in high school, and then they played on recreation teams afterwards in their adult life,” he said of the 2001 Lake Region High School graduates, who were the first freshmen to play on the varsity team.

While Carter Bergen’s field is already functioning as a softball field, complete with dugouts, the official name of the field – The Laurie A. Carter Bergen Memorial Field – will be unveiled on a sign at the June 1 grand opening ceremony.

Three of the four diamond-shaped fields at the complex will be named, said BRAG’s president Bill Macdonald. The fourth is still seeking a sponsor.

The Cal Ripken baseball field will be named after Roger and Mary Macdonald, founders of Macdonald Motors. Their grandson, Bill Macdonald, owns the car dealership, located across from the fields complex on Route 302 in Bridgton, and has been active with BRAG for the last five years, now serving as the group’s president. He said the naming of the field after his grandparents is “extremely emotional.”

“They resided in Bridgton a long, long time,” Macdonald said. “My grandfather had a lot to do with the community. He never really wanted notoriety for some of the things he did, and we just feel this is a great tribute to recognize him and all that they’ve done for the community when they were with us.”

A third baseball field will be named after Eddie Rolfe, who is still living and donated the acreage for the field complex. Macdonald said the Rolfe family “has been extremely generous.” He added that Rolfe and his son, Rex Rolfe, “have been gentlemen in dealing with this whole transaction. They’ve never said no to us.”

While much has been done to create the four diamond-shaped fields and several additional soccer and multipurpose fields, there is more complex development the group has in the works.

“We’re not done, we’ve got to build the basketball courts, the tennis courts, the concession stand,” Larry Carter said. “We’re going to start that soon. Got approvals for that this week. So, there’s a long way to go.”

Lyn and Larry Carter of Casco will be among many celebrating the grand opening June 1 of a new field complex in Bridgton. One of the fields will be named in memory of their daughter, Laurie A. Carter Bergen, who died in 2009 at the age of 26. Photo by Rich Obrey 

Laurie A. Carter Bergen, a standout softball player from Casco pictured here at her cubicle at Unum, died in 2009. Her memory will live on in a softball field dedicated to her memory. Courtesy photo

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