For Crying Out Loud
As 10 aspiring members of Finaghy Primary School’s girls’ field hockey team whack the ball up and down the pitch, coach Annalisa Wray, 25, bellows out her philosophy. “You have to really fight for it!” she cries. “If you want it, shout for it!”
This is no fey Wray. Ever since she won a shouting contest in a town outside her native Belfast in 1992, the elementary school teacher—whose cry of “Quiet!” hit a window-rattling 119.4 decibels—has boasted the loudest shout on the planet, according to the Guinness Book of Records. “My family would tell you I was quite a loud person,” she says. “But it was a shock to get the record.”
Wray’s voice can drown out a jackhammer and can even give a jet engine a run for its rumpus. “It left me with a ringing in my ears,” says her boyfriend Geoff Flanagan, 33, a civil servant, recalling a day of in-car practice sessions.
Born 10 minutes ahead of her twin sister, Nicki, Wray has long known how to clamor for attention. In fact, Nicki, also a teacher but at another school, had all but won the shouting contest until her sister opened her big mouth. “She’s more competitive,” says Nicki. Wray agrees. “I have the trophies to prove it,” she says.
Though Wray upped her record to 121.7 decibels in 1994, she fears a recent tonsillectomy, which seems to have lowered her voice, has blunted her edge. “It needs to be higher pitched to reach the high decibels,” she explains. Not that Wray makes a habit of flexing her voice. “We’ve had a tiff,” Flanagan admits, “but never a shouting match.” Lucky for him.