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Kelly Best, left, and Amanda Zimmer

Auburn seniors Kelly Best, left, and Amanda Zimmer getting ready for another year of Auburn Panhellenic Recruitment on campus.

When Kelly Best and Amanda Zimmer decided to attend Auburn University back in 2020, the two had no idea they would one day become sisters.

Living just miles away from each other, the two attended the same church and were enrolled in rival high schools, yet never crossed paths. Now seniors, they never believed their lives would become so intertwined.

“Our schools played each other in lacrosse frequently,” said Best, a senior majoring in rehabilitation and disability studies. “There’s a post on Amanda’s Instagram from middle school of her playing lacrosse, and one of my best friends from home happens to be playing defense against her in the photo.”

Shortly before their first semester at Auburn, their parents — Zimmer’s father, Chris, and Best’s mother, Katie — began dating and decided to try a reverse “Parent Trap” scenario rather than formally introducing the future stepsiblings.

“Our parents actually set us up on a ‘blind date’ of sorts,” said Zimmer, a communications major. “Kelly and I had both committed to Auburn in early February, which our parents thought was a crazy coincidence, but of course they had only been dating for a little while, so it wasn’t too big of a deal yet. In late February, our parents took us to an Auburn basketball game and failed to mention that they had only bought two tickets, one for me and one for Kelly.”

A family poses for a photo in the mountains of Colorado

The Best-Zimmer family celebrated the wedding of their parents in June of 2021. Pictured left to right is Andrew Best, Kelly Best, Katie Best, Chris Zimmer, Natalie Zimmer and Amanda Zimmer.

Similar to a scene right out of the 1998 Lindsay Lohan movie, what started out as an awkward introduction became a fast friendship as the two were excited by the prospect of their parents’ continuing relationship. As their parents’ bond continued to grow, the daughters began their first year at Auburn. Entering into Auburn Panhellenic recruitment period, the future stepsisters didn’t discuss much about the process, so when they both received bids from the same sorority, they were astonished.

“At first, I really didn’t think that it was real, it had to have been a mistake,” Zimmer said. “We called our parents, and they were literally in shock. It was fate at its finest. That was a really cool day.”

As fate would have it, early into their second semester, the students learned of Zimmer’s father’s plans to propose at their Florida beach home. Zimmer rushed down to Florida, with Best coming down a day earlier, but they both missed the engagement.

“When I woke up the day of the proposal, my mom and Chris were just coming in from a walk on the beach,” Best said. “I didn’t think anything of it, until I noticed the ring on my mom’s finger. After congratulating them, I called Amanda to let her know that she had missed it, and that was such a funny phone call.”

A group of people stand in front of a Parents Weekend sign.

Celebrating Auburn's parents weekend on the Plains with Delta Zeta are, from left to right, Chris Zimmer, Amanda Zimmer, Kelly Best, Katie Best and Andrew Best.

The wedding took place in Colorado in June 2021, and the ceremony was restricted to Zimmer and Best, their parents and their other siblings. Looking back, the two fondly remember hiking on top of a Crested Butte mountain in heels.

Best’s mother’s Facebook post from the wedding declared the couple as a “match made in heaven,” and the same could be said for the two stepsisters as well. With Zimmer losing her mother in high school and Best’s father passing away when she was 7, the two understand one another’s struggles in a way not many people their age can and feel their families were practically hand-picked for each other.

“I always wondered what it would be like to have that real sisterly connection with someone and have someone close to me to relate to,” Best said. “I feel so lucky that we have the same close-knit friend group as well; it just feels like everything has fallen into place perfectly because we just get along so well. We’ve experienced so much together in just a few short years, and it’s all been a blast.”

One of those experiences included becoming aunts together, as the two recently welcomed a nephew into the world when their older sister, Natalie, had a baby in 2022. Throughout it all, the two agree that Auburn played a huge role in shaping their family into what it is today.

“If it wasn’t for Auburn, I wouldn’t have the relationship I have with Kelly, and even my dad,” Zimmer said. “Being so close with Kelly has helped me grow in my relationship with my dad, which I am so grateful for.”

Best agrees that Auburn has been the catalyst for the relationship she shares with her stepsister today.

“I think that our story is just another great example of the Auburn Family at work,” Best said. “The fact that we both found our homes at this school, in Delta Zeta, with the same amazing group of friends, just feels like fate.”

Kelly Best, left, and Amanda Zimmer

Stepsisters Kelly Best, left, and Amanda Zimmer on a scenic trip to the Colorado mountains.